Tonight is opening night in the NBA. It’s the time when every team thinks they have a chance. Everyone thinks they are playoff caliber before the opening tip. Some teams get a dose of reality quickly. For the Dallas Mavericks, it’s been an interesting last two seasons. After winning the NBA Championship two seasons ago, the Mavericks went through quite the makeover. Not only will this year’s Mavericks team look different compared to the one that won the NBA title two seasons ago but it also looks different compared to last year’s team that finished just 36-30 and seventh in the Western Conference. There are a lot of moving parts but there has also been an influx of talent with Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman. However, the news of Dirk Nowitzki’s knee injury puts a run of 12 straight playoff appearances in jeopardy.
Rick Carlisle joined KTCK in Dallas with Norm Hitzges to talk about when he expects to have Chris Kaman to be back in the lineup, if he thinks Roddy Beaubois will be able to turn the corner and what kind of team he expects to have when everyone is healthy.
When he expects to have Chris Kaman back in the lineup:
“We’re hoping he is ready as soon as possible. He may be ready to play, he may not. Probably more likely that he won’t but he’s making some progress, he was on the court the other day for a brief amount of time. He’s a guy that he has a history of some health issues so whatever this one is we have to get it cleared up and move forward from there.”
If he thinks Roddy Beaubois will be able to turn the corner:
“I do. It’s been a long and in some ways complicated road due to health issues, due to the fact that he hasn’t really had much experience as a true point guard. That’s been the biggest challenge aside from the health issues is integrating him into that sort of mindset of being a point guard where now you have to understand the other four guys and understand what the coach wants and understand time and score and all of that. When he first started playing basketball he was like 17-years-old and ended up playing pros like two years later over in France or something. He was a guy that was just running around shooting jump shots playing off the ball mostly. We have to remember those things. He has a lot of ability and we can’t get frustrated when things don’t go just so. We have to be patient and we have some other young guys we’re going to have to be patient with as well.”
What he expects his team to look like when completely healthy:
“It’s a highly skilled team from the big position standpoint because we have a lot of big guys that can shoot the ball with range. We’ve never had that. We’ve never had a five guy that can shoot the ball to 19 feet like Kaman. (Elton) Brand can shoot it to 18 or 19 feet and Brand can even shoot it from three at times. It changes our dynamics offensively. Defensively the challenge is going to be on the boards and with our physical toughness level just because of the way our guys are built. We don’t have a lot of big, bruising type guys other than Brand. That’s going to be a challenge for us and we have to make up for it with persistence and grit.”