Donnie Nelson, the Dallas Mavericks' president of basketball operations, isn't worried, but he does seem to be growing weary of a protracted negotiation process with Rick Carlisle, the Mavs' top choice to take over as head coach, and his agent Warren LeGarie.
Not only did a press conference to introduce Carlisle as the franchise's ninth head coach not happen on Friday as the club had hoped, an agreement remained elusive.
"All I can say is lawyers happen," a fatigued-sounding Nelson said Friday evening. "You can dispute every detail if you want."
LeGarie is apparently taking his time and addressing different points within the contract before Carlisle signs it. The deal is believed to be for four years. LeGarie, who is also busy dealing with another client, the in-demand Mike D'Antoni, did not return phone messages Friday.
On Wednesday, both sides seemed confident that a deal was nearing completion. The Mavs believed they'd be able to cease negotiations on Thursday and introduce Carlisle on Friday. That introduction will be put off until next week so the deal can be completed -- if it's completed.
Asked if he's still confident that Carlisle will be the next coach of the Mavericks, Nelson paused for several seconds and then said: "I'm not confident of anything at this point. You just have to be patient."
At this point it's difficult to discern how close, or how far apart, the two sides are.
Carlisle, 281-211 in two seasons with Detroit and four with Indiana, remains the only known candidate to have interviewed for the position. LeGarie said Wednesday that Carlisle is not interested in seeing what other opportunities might arise elsewhere, saying that Carlisle believes he found a fit with the Mavs.
-- Jeff Caplan