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Rick Carlisle's minute problem

Rick-CarlisleDespite a monotone inflection that would suggest otherwise, Rick Carisle is an eternal optimist but he would not agree with me when I asked him, "Is your team better today than when the playoffs ended?"

"I think we have a chance; I think we have a chance to be a different kind of team and to be better," Carlisle said in a phone interview.

Not exactly a great sales pitch, but the next part caught me off guard.

"The loss of (Vince) Carter is a significant loss. We are going to have to find the right formula to mitigate that loss. Having Chandler Parsons helps, and we are going to have to find some other guys to make up for that.


Vince Carter recently signed a three-year deal with the Grizzlies. Despite the fact he is 37 and sometimes had head-scratching shot selection, he was still a reliable ball handler and a guy who knew what to do with the basketball and when. Carlisle could trust him with the ball.

Tyson_Chandler_Mavs_croppedDespite his absence, the addition of Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Rashard Lewis, Greg Smith and the return of Devin Harris should make the Mavs a legit contender for the four-spot in the Western Conference.

The biggest trick for Carlisle is not necessarily finding minutes for everybody, but keeping his biggest players playing the right minutes, and on the floor for under no more than 30 a night.

"Yeah - ideally I don’t want any of our older veteran guys to play more than 30 minutes a game if possible," Carlisle said. "Some of it is, it's not just a number of minutes it’s the stretches of minutes guys can play in games. You can play (a player) longer minutes as long as he doesn’t get gassed. There is some science to that."

That specifically means Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki can't be over 30 minutes per game often. When Chandler was with the Mavs in '10-'11, he averaged 27.8 minutes per game and played 74 games. When he was with the Knicks, he averaged more than 30 minutes a night, and never played more than 66 games.

Dirk has averaged at least more than 31 minutes per game, including last season when he was just under 33.

Managing minutes was one of the strengths that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, and it is something Carlisle has made a priority with older players. With so many players on his roster over 30, minute distribution will remain one of his biggest priorities.

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I agree that Carlisle should just take a page out of the Popovich playbook, but it's more than just managing the game minutes. He also needs to give his older players a night off periodically, especially on back to back nights or on long road trips. Even though they lost Carter, the Mavs have a deep enough bench to win games against weaker teams without Dirk or Tyson Chandler. Parsons and Ellis are young and have proven that they can handle heavy minutes. Keeping the old guys fresh throughout the year will pay big dividends come playoff time.

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