Mac Engel

Rick Carlisle is the best coach in the NBA, and just as full of it as any other

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle wants longer preseason

The Mavericks were practicing in Dallas this week. Their season starts Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018.
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The Mavericks were practicing in Dallas this week. Their season starts Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018.

Just a few months after proclaiming that the Mavericks selected a “franchise foundation piece” in Luka Doncic, coach Rick Carlisle wants no part of such a stupid sweeping statement.

When asked what characteristics Doncic possesses to carry the burden of expectations this franchise has justifiably put on the No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, Coach Fun swatted it.

“I haven’t said that. He’s a good player. He’s going to be playing a lot,” Carlisle answered to my question on Monday. “I don’t get into big, sweeping statements about him being the next this or that. You’re trying to suck me into some kind of stupid answer and I’m not going there.”

No, but on the night the Mavs moved up to pick Doncic, Carlisle said, “We got a guy who we think is a franchise foundation piece.”

And Ricky the Mavs Ticket Salesman had no problem telling fans they should get their season tickets to watch Luka play and if they don’t they will regret it.

Rick is the best coach in the NBA, and just as full of it as any other. Now he’s on a mission to manage, and suppress, the expectations for his latest teenage savior.

Doncic is either that foundation piece, or Carlisle’s time as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks will become a point of interest.

Outside of the head coach in San Antonio, no man in his spot has more of a grip on his franchise than Ricky.

The NBA’s regular season is here, and so starts the process of determining if the Mavs were right in moving up to acquire their next Euro savior.

Go with yes.

Luka is that good.

“We’re really lucky to have him and he’s going to be a great player for this franchise for a very long time,” Mavs center DeAndre Jordan said. “He’s really advanced for being a rookie. For being 19 years old.”

And the Mavs aren’t making the playoffs this year.

Mavs Stuck in the West

Vegas oddsmakers set the over/under on the Mavs’ season win total at 34.5.

With a starting lineup of Luka, DeAndre, Dennis Smith Jr., Wes Matthews, and Harrison Barnes, and with Dirk Nowitzki coming off the bench, the over feels like an OK bet. But not much beyond that.

The problem remains the problem for the Mavs: The Western Conference. The eighth seed in the West last season, Minnesota, won 47 games.

The Mavs won 24 last season.

Dallas is significantly better, but the conference is historically loaded to the point that reaching the .500 mark would be a fantastic achievement.

Carlisle’s Clock

Carlisle was hired to replace Avery Johnson in May 2008, one month after Miami hired Erik Spoelstra. That makes Ricky the third longest tenured NBA head coach, behind Erik Spoelstra and No. 1 Gregg Popovich, who feels like he was hired the day after The Alamo fell.

Aside from being a bright man and a great coach, few men in the NBA have ever “managed up” better than Carlisle. He never lost Dirk, and Carlisle is always effusive towards team owner Mark Cuban. Carlisle knows he is the head coach, but he has people to “report to” as well.

A substandard roster has led to the Mavs missing the playoffs in each of the last two years, and wasting the remainder of Dirk’s prime. That’s not on Ricky, but he is the head coach.

As much as guys like DSJ and Doncic have to adapt to the NBA, Carlisle will have to adapt to them as much as develop them.

Much like with Dirk, one of these players will eventually have the keys to this team, and the locker room. Go with Doncic. Any successful NBA head coach is only as good as his relationship with his most talented player.

Carlisle comes across as an old school “coaches’ coach” but don’t confuse his often gruff presentation as a man who is anything other than a player’s coach. In previous stops in Detroit and Indiana before him, he’s never lost his players because he always has their back.

When Carlisle was fired as the head coach of the Indiana Pacers in the spring of 2007, he said he thought the team needed a new voice. The roster was a mess, and everyone needed to go.

These Mavs don’t need a new voice, but Carlisle’s challenge is to gain the trust and confidence of DSJ and Luka much in the same way he did with Dirk.

It all starts on Wednesday, and for the first time in years the Mavs should be fun to watch, even though they won’t make the playoffs.

Carlisle, however, would not agree with such a stupid sweeping statement. He’s got tickets to sell.

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