From all of his analytics and business acumen, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban concluded that Rick Carlisle is one of the top three coaches in the NBA.
So it came as no surprise Thursday when Cuban opened up his checkbook and signed Carlisle to a five-year extension worth $35 million. Carlisle becomes the highest paid coach in the NBA without dual executive responsibilities, and the extension keeps him in Dallas through the 2020-21 season.
“I’m obviously excited to have Rick back for the long term,” Cuban said prior to Thursday night’s 108-94 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. “He’s earned it; he’s worth it. We’re a better team and a better organization on and off the court because of it.
“Rick is a top-three coach in this league, and just having that ability, I think, you can’t really quantify it. He’s great.”
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Carlisle credits forward Dirk Nowitzki, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and Cuban for putting him in a position to receive his coveted extension.
“Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson and Dirk Nowitzki are the reasons an extension like this is possible,” Carlisle said. “I have the best owner and general manager in sports, and one of the greatest players in NBA history to thank for this opportunity.
“There is much work to be done as we move forward.”
Carlisle, 56, led the Mavs to their only NBA title in 2011 and became the franchise’s all-time winningest coach with 340 victories after Dallas defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Since purchasing the Mavs on Jan. 4, 2000, Cuban had never handed out an extension to a coach. He normally waited until their current contract expired before negotiating a new deal.
But Cuban is so fond of Carlisle that he decided to make an exception.
“I’m not stupid,” Cuban said. “I don’t just say here’s the way it’s always going to be. The worst policy in the world is to be dogmatic about your policies.”
When asked if the negotiations with Carlisle were easy, Cuban said: “I wouldn’t go that far, but they weren’t difficult. We both wanted to stay together. It was clear he wanted to stay. He didn’t put the pressure on us at all.”
Carlisle has been with the Mavs since 2008 and is the third longest-tenured coach in the NBA behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra.
As far as who Cuban believes are the top three coaches in the NBA, he would only name Popovich and Carlisle. He refused to name the third coach but was more than happy to continue praising Carlisle for all he has accomplished.
“He understands the game,” Cuban said. “He’s playing checkers when other coaches are playing chess. He sees steps ahead. Guys respect him.”
Carlisle is known as one of the league’s best at making adjustments on the fly. That’s another intangible that gives him an edge for the Mavs.
“Rick is always known for having his own peculiarities, and those are things I really like and appreciate, so I’ve always looked at him as a long-term coach,” Cuban said. “His sense of humor is a little bit different than some. He’s an extremely talented guy, so he’s got that talent edge to him. Not everybody can deal with that.”