BROOKLYN — When the Dallas Mavericks decided last summer to gut their roster of many veterans and replace them with younger players, it didnt go over well with the fans.It also hasnt translated well on the court, where the Mavs are just 26-32 going into Sundays game in Houston.When you play the younger guys there are going to be more challenges, coach Rick Carlisle said Friday. We knew as an organization we needed to get younger.Weve made a lot of strides with our young players. We want them to be as good as they can possibly be, and were going to keep coaching them hard.The Mavs have eight players on their roster 27 years old or younger. They also have a 28-year old rookie center in Bernard James.Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, both 25 years old, comprise the Mavs starting backcourt. Plus, 22-year old rookie forward Jae Crowder has received more than his share of meaningful minutes.Collison and Mayo are the two guys that are really kind of the featured guys on our team because they are the two starting guards, Carlisle said. Theyve gone through a lot this year, but theyve gotten a lot better.In the big picture I really like the progress that theyve made.As far as rookies James and Crowder are concerned, Carlisle said: I dont know of many teams in this league that have two second-round picks that have been in their rotation consistently like we have with Crowder and Bernard James. All that is real good for the future of the franchise.Its been tough in some of the situations where weve had tough losses and you need some of that experience to get you over the hump. Look, weve got to stay the course and were going to do that.Wishing Williams wellLast July, Rick Carlisle was part of the Mavs contingent that traveled to New York to try to convince free-agent point guard Deron Williams to sign with the Mavericks.Williams eventually signed a five-year, $98 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets.We had a good visit with him and he decided to come here and we wished him well, Carlisle said. Thats pretty much history now.You know, hes a Dallas guy and we would have loved to have him. But if we cant get him we want him to have a good experience here.Leaning on veteransAs the Mavs go through this difficult period in their season, Rick Carlisle has often leaned on veterans Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Elton Brand to help the team get through this process.We depend on those guys to do it on the floor, to keep things upbeat in the locker room and keep the younger guys going, Carlisle said. Dirk and Shawn and Vince and Elton, these guys have been through everything, theyve seen everything.Their wisdom in a lot of this stuff is really important to us.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice