Dallas Mavericks will begin large-scale makeover

DALLAS -- With so many new faces in camp, not many are expecting the Dallas Mavericks to win the Southwest Division title this season, let alone the NBA title for the second time in three seasons.

But that has in no way dampened coach Rick Carlisle's infectious enthusiasm.

"I don't care about the prognosticators or pundits or whatever," Carlisle said. "The important thing is that we come in Day One and we do the right things over time to get better and put ourselves in a position to be a contending team.

"That's what it's about."

The Mavericks will host their annual Media Day at 1 p.m. today at American Airlines Center. The opening day of training camp is Saturday with two-a-days from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m.

The entire process builds up to the Oct. 30 regular-season opener in Los Angeles on national television against the revamped Lakers.

"We have 31 days of training camp and then we're at the Lakers on national TV," Carlisle said. "That 31 days is going to go by very quickly.

"We're not going to try and reinvent these guys. We're going to try to put them together into our system to make this thing work in a big way."

If they carry the NBA maximum of 15 players on their final roster, the Mavericks will attempt to mesh eight new players into their scheme. That's a tall order for any organization.

"I've been involved in this one other time when my second year in Detroit [in the 2002-03 season] we had eight new guys, and we ended up having a very successful season, because two of the guys were Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton," Carlisle said. "The third one was Tayshaun Prince, and we had a couple of other guys that were good players.

"We've got some good players in this group too. My goal is going to be to get the same thing done."

In the 2002-03 season as Detroit's coach, Carlisle led the Pistons to a 50-32 record, first place in the Central Division and a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals.

One of the new Mavericks -- guard Dahntay Jones -- believes too much is being made about whether the eight new players can mesh with the seven returning and become a formidable unit.

"I don't think it'll be that difficult because we have a great coach who is going to work at that and make sure we complement each other on a good basis," Jones said.

Jones said the NBA has invariably afforded the Mavericks a golden opportunity to forge a bond among themselves. The team leaves Wednesday for a weeklong journey to play preseason games in Berlin and Barcelona, Spain.

"With the European trip coming up we can use that to our advantage of getting some isolation and learning each other as men and as basketball players as well," Jones said. "In order to be a good teammate you have to know what makes a man tick and what they like, and you have to kind of spend some time with them off the court.

"And I guess that's going to be an experience for us to be together and to grow as a team."

The Mavs went from NBA champs in 2011 to a 36-30 record and getting swept in the first round of last season's playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"We're a winning franchise and we don't go into this with low expectations," Carlisle said. "We've got different guys here and we've got these guys here because we like what they do.

"My job is to take their abilities and mold them into a team, and we have a relatively short period of time to do it."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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