DALLAS -- With the offseason departures of point guard Jason Kidd and center Brendan Haywood, it's obvious the Dallas Mavericks will have to work at least two new players into their starting lineup this season.
Depending on what coach Rick Carlisle wants to do at the shooting guard position, that number could swell to as high as three new Mavs on the floor for the opening tipoff. However, with eight new players overall on his roster, Carlisle sees a much bigger picture than just who the public address announcer will introduce as the starters.
"I don't look at it so much as two or three into the starting lineup," Carlisle said Friday at American Airlines Center during the Mavs' media day. "It's eight into our system, and our system is going to have to adjust with the newness of the personnel."
By his own coaching standards, Carlisle isn't one who tries to fit a square peg into a round hole. That, he believes, is a method that will implode.
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"I think philosophically I'm one of those people who believe, as a coach, you've got to adapt to your personnel," Carlisle said. "You just can't be completely stringent about what your system is, and the players either fit or they don't.
"I think one of the responsibilities of coaching is to make guys fit and to help them fit. That's a challenge I like."
By all accounts, the Mavs' starting lineup this season will likely consist of forwards Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, guards Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, and center Chris Kaman. Collison, Mayo and Kaman are in their first season with the Mavs and will be counted on heavily following the offseason losses of Jason Terry, Ian Mahinmi, Kidd and Haywood.
Elton Brand, Dahntay Jones and D.J. Mbenga are the other veterans in the Mavs' training camp who could see themselves in Carlisle's rotation.
"On paper, we don't look awesome," Kaman said. "We have a lot of older guys, we have some younger guys, some middle of the road guys.
"People probably have us low on the scales this year, so we're underrated. But we have to prove people wrong, and it's going to take time to jell, mesh everybody together and get everybody in the starting lineup on the same page."
As the projected starting point guard, it's Collison's job to get everyone on the same page. But he's new to Carlisle's system.
Collison arrives after the Mavs lost out on point guard Deron Williams in free agency, then saw Kidd change his mind to sign with New York.
Does that add pressure on Collison to produce immediately?
"I don't believe in pressure and I don't get into that," he said. "I've always felt like in the NBA, you've got to be your own player.
"Deron Williams is a good player and I'm pretty sure Mavs fans would have loved for him to come here, but I'm my own player. I have a job to do here and my job is to win and make this team successful, and that's it."
The Mavs were 36-30 last season, then were swept in four games by Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs. As the Mavs open training camp today with two-a-day practices, they're hoping a bunch of new faces can help them regain the swagger that led them to the 2011 NBA title.
"We're going to be good and we're going to still be one of the tough teams to beat," Nowitzki said. "But where we're going to end up, I have no idea."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760