As one of the prestigious 30 head coaches in the NBA, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was sad to hear the news that the Sacramento Kings had fired coach Mike Malone.
“I was disappointed,” said Carlisle, who is the president of the coach’s association. “I thought [Malone] did a terrific job of changing a lot of their culture.
“They had become a team that was playing hard, playing a playoff style. He was unfortunate that they were playing nine consecutive games without [center] DeMarcus Cousins.”
The Kings were 11-13 and tied for 10th place in the rugged Western Conference when Malone got the ax. Mavs owner Mark Cuban felt Malone was just in an unfortunate situation with a franchise which truly believes they belong among the 16 teams that will advance to this season’s playoffs.
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“We always hear about coaches that were brought there to take the beating until they turn things around,” Cuban said. “You hear about it all the time.
“I haven’t been in that position, fortunately. Sometimes you’re in a difficult position like we’ve been before and sometimes you’re in a good position.”
And sometimes, as the Mavs remember when they finished the 2006-07 season with a 67-15 record, things can turn on a dime. Malone, though, won’t be around to see if the Kings will be able to cash in and advance to the playoffs.
Carlisle thought it was a touch of class that Cousins went out of his way to praise Malone.
“I thought it was real class on the part of DeMarcus Cousins to come out and say some really nice positive things about the job that Mike did out there, because that team, they’re on track to make a quantum leap up,” Carlisle said. “And when they do, he should get a fair amount of the credit for it.”
Carlisle praises Tyson
Usually about eight reporters crowd around Carlisle during his pregame press conference. On Tuesday, some 35 members of the media crowded around Carlisle.
And they mostly wanted the lowdown on Tyson Chandler, the Mavs’ center, who spent the previous three years playing for the New York Knicks. Chandler missed 43 games over the past two years because of various injuries, and then was traded to the Mavs this past June.
“There’s never any guarantees with [injuries],” Carlisle said. “Injuries happen, but we have a great staff and he puts in the work.
“So far he’s had good luck, knock on wood. The key thing is to keep working at it.”
Carlisle discussed how Chandler has been one of the linchpins this season for the Mavs.
“We’ve gotten better since last year because of him,” Carlisle said. “He’s a great player and he works extremely hard with our training staff to keep himself strong, balanced and keep himself on the floor.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760