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04/11/2013

This is the second best coaching job of Rick Carlisle's career

Rick+Carlisle+Phoenix+Suns+v+Dallas+Mavericks+5zYk3FL_IxdlThis is not a Rick Carlisle suckup because the man is too smart for that. Oh hell ... even that sounds like a butt-kissing move.

The Dallas Mavericks stink, and their loss against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night is another blah in a season full of them. The playoffs are dead, and there is a good chance the team won't finish .500.

This season is not on the players, or head coach Rick Carlisle. The roster is not good enough. That falls on management.

Of the many positive decisions Mark Cuban has made since be bought the Mavs - serisously, there are many - one of the best was hiring Rick Carlisle. Behind the Brawl Season with the Indiana Pacers in 2004-'05, coaching this veteran Mavericks team to relevance is the second best year of his coaching career. 

"That year he coached us was extraordinary," said former Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers guard Anthony Johnson in a phone interview. "After the brawl, that destroyed our year. But we made the playoffs that year and we thought that was impossible. Rick was one of those guys that said, 'You can feel sorry for yourselves or put on your big boy pants' and he led us to keeping that team's playoff streak alive."

Rick Carlislex-largeCarlisle kept this Mavericks team interested throughout a season that began with an ish roster knowing their chances were minimum. The veterans on that team knew the score. He never threw a fit or dog-cussed anybody. To both his, and their, credit they remained professional and engaged. Not every team in this circumstance would do that.

This will likely be only the second time in Carlisle's 11 seasons as an NBA head coach will his team not have a winning record. The last time he finished under .500 he was canned; that was when the Indiana Pacers finished 35-47 in 2006-'07. At the time, even Carlisle conceeded the team needed a voice. 

Carlisle is finishing his fifth season with the Mavericks. Since the lifespan of an NBA head coach can be measured like dog years, Carlisle has been with the same team for 35 years. 

I asked Johnson if there are any parallels between Carlisle's exit and this season with the Mavericks; that Carlisle may think this team needs a new voice.

"It depends on the roster. There are some coaches who have an expiration date of three to five years and they are going to be done based on they conduct themselves," Johnson said. "That last season in Indiana, it just got old for everybody. Every day was something negative. When when we won, it wasn't joyous because there was always something negative. I think after everybody from dispersed from that they were relieved of not being in that situation. 

"The reason Rick does such a good job is because he coaches to the strength of the roster. If you look at his teams in Detroit or Indiana or Dallas, they were all very different. Not everybody can do that."

There will come a day when Cuban, or the players tire of Carlisle and he will leave on his own, or be fired. It happens to all of them.

But with a roster that should undergo some major turnover soon, that day should not be any time soon.

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