It was just two seasons ago when the Dallas Mavericks were celebrating an NBA Championship. Now, if you take a look at their roster, you will notice that many of the players that helped bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Big D are gone. After an organizational decision to not bring back many of the veteran players back in the name of keeping financial flexibility, this was the offseason that the Mavericks were to restock. And while they have whiffed on some of their top targets, Dallas will head into this season with a myriad of new players, including Chris Kaman, Darren Collision and O.J. Mayo, as they try to get back to the top of the Western Conference once again.
Rick Carlisle joined 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis with Grady and Big Joe to talk about the Mavericks offseason, how much the new rules of the CBA has affected them and whether he was surprised that Larry Bird decided to step away for a year.
On the Mavericks offseason:
“We’re excited. When you lose a guy like (Jason) Kidd you better find somebody that’s capable and Darren (Collison) is a guy that I think everybody likes. He’s moved around I think in part because in New Orleans they had Chris Paul who they felt was going to be there and they needed to kind of fortify the rest of their lineup so they traded him I think in their deal for (Trevor) Ariza. Then I think the Pacers traded him because they gave (George) Hill a lot of money and don’t think they felt they were going to be able to pay him what he was going to be worth on the market so we’re in a great position to get a guy like that and he’s been terrific to talk to and spend time with so far. He looks you right in the eye, he’s really intense and situations of how likes this and what does that and he went in for his physical and got with our video guys and he’s been wearing those guys out for DVD’s of all the different kind of stuff we do and all that kind of stuff. He definitely has a thirst for being the kind of player that gets other people involved. He’s going to be very motivated because it’s a contract year too so we’re excited.”
How much the CBA rules have impacted the Mavericks plan:
“I do believe our owner Mark Cuban felt that this CBA was going to have major impact and it was very difficult for him to not bring back guys like (Tyson) Chandler, (J.J.) Barea, (DeShawn) Stevenson and guys like that who were key guys in our championship run but one of the things about being a leader in this league, whether you’re an owner, coach or even a player is at times you have to make different decisions and you’ve got to roll with the decision that you feel is the best long-term one for your franchise. Coming into this past year we were the oldest team in basketball. We were the oldest team in the NBA and we needed to get younger. Dirk (Nowitzki) has got a few more years left to play we believe at a very high level but we’ve got to somehow make him the second best player if we’re going to continue to be a championship contending team. You don’t want to be strapped in a position where you’re good but with really no hope to be at that higher level. Mark’s approach is we’re going to maintain flexibility, we’re going to do what we can to get younger and the guys we’re going to sign long-term are going to be guys we feel are championship pieces. Guys that are one of eight or nine on a championship team. Keep plucking away that way until we get back to where we need to be. I understand the thinking and the process and where he’s coming from. Yes the dynamics of the new CBA have influenced that. I think what we’re going to see more and more is that the contracts are going to change and you’ve seen his summer the markets for free agency have been all over the board. It’s been really wacky and it appears to us as time goes on that there are going to be more one year contracts similar to baseball. You’re going to have a lot of guys , a lot more guys that in the past on one year deals and so on and so forth. We’ve got to all be ready to adjust to whatever the changes are going to be and my job is to help Mark and Donnie Nelson come up with the best plan, recruit the players we need to recruit in free agency and what have you, draft very prudently and put this thing all together on the court. I like our group, it’s exciting because there is a lot of newness to it and at the same time we still have Dirk and we have been able to acquire some other really good veteran players. We’re excited and it’s going to upon us very quickly.”
Whether he was surprised that Larry Bird stepped away for a year:
“I wasn’t shocked and every situation has some things behind the scenes that influence it. I’ve talked to Larry a lot over the years and there was an awful lot that the franchise went through to get back to where they’re at and he was in a position similar to us a few years ago with Jermaine (O’Neal) and some good veteran type guys and he knew that the best way to go was to trade those guys, get younger and turn their roster over and recreate a new direction. He did that and it’s painful to go through some growing pains and losing but you look at what Larry Bird has done there it has been nothing short of remarkable. He came in as a coach and I was an assistant coach at the time in Portland. He called me up and said ‘I’m going to coach the Pacers. I said ‘you’re going to do what?’ He goes ‘listen I want you to be one of my assistants’ and I said ‘Larry the only thing crazier than you coaching that team is you thinking I’m going to go with you to coach that team.’ That’s how it started. The more I talked to him the more I realized that he was really committed, he had a really good plan in place as to how to approach it and that was a 39 win team that he took up to 58 and it was a franchise record for wins at the time and the team went to the Conference Finals against Chicago and a couple years later we got to the NBA Finals, which is the furthest the club has ever gotten. In the process just his mere presence was a big factor in getting Conseco Fieldhouse, the former Conseco Fieldhouse, built and he took some time off because coaching is a real intense deal. Then he had options when he came back. There were two or three other teams offering him big deals to come back and be the President and I was glad he came back to Indiana because I thought it made a lot of sense. That opened the door for me to come back and everything else he has done, if you’ve been the MVP of the league, the Rookie of the Year in the league, 10 time All-Star, Finals MVP, Coach of the Year and now you’ve been Executive of the Year, this may be the most decorated basketball man in NBA history and he certainly earned the right to take a year off and go hang out in Naples or whatever you have to do. I expect he will be back because he’s just been too productive and it’s been a very fulfilling thing for him. At times you get to a point where you have to take a break. I’ve been at that point a couple of times in my own career so I understand.”