The Dallas Mavericks, without even the slightest hesitation, have now executed the easiest and most predictable item on their off-season agenda. According to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News (and as confirmed by team release), a four-year contract extension for Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is now complete, removing even the slightest possibility that such a brilliant basketball mind could somehow stray from Dallas.
Calls don’t come much easier than this one; there’s only a small cut of NBA coaches who make a tangibly positive impact on their team’s play, and Carlisle happens to be one of them. While many coaches are tempted by the safety of formula, Carlisle finds — and ultimately succumbs to — allure in flexibility. Consistent roles are among the great red herrings of professional basketball, and its to Carlisle’s credit that he’s dispensed with that farce and pushed for basketball players to be basketball players, without worry or need for self-defeating promises. I’m sure many in the NBA would feel safe in knowing that their position on a particular team is never questioned, but Carlisle’s rotational philosophy is empowered by freedom.
If sitting a scorer for the sake of defense is called for, he does it. If playing his starting center just 12 minutes a night gives his team the best chance to win, he won’t hesitate. If an oddly constructed zone defense makes the most sense for his defensive personnel, he’ll thwart convention. Carlisle isn’t just valuable because he makes the right moves, but because he has the audacity to attempt all of the moves. He’s wrong plenty, but his desires to shift his lineups and manipulate the game aren’t at all misplaced, and his team is ultimately best served by his uncanny ability and unending willingness to change directions.
The Mavericks have a catch in Carlisle, and that’s no less true now than it was last June. He’s a premium commodity in a middle-heavy pool, and what he may lack in mystique, he more than makes up for in ingenuity.