Carlise on the Mavs

Rick-o_medium

Big Ed over at DMNews interviews Rick Carlise.  Following the break are  some highlights of that interview with some of my thoughts about Rick's answers.  I also am interested to know what you guys think of Rick and his approach to this season so far.

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Check out what Hollinger's review of this Summer's transactions were. 

Under the "I don't get it" section...

I'm still waiting to find out who in the Mavs' organization Devean George has pictures of. He signed a third contract with Dallas, even after providing abundantly mediocre production in the first two, and it wasn't just a token minimum-wage gig either -- he got a two-year deal worth $3.2 million. Or maybe it was a belated reward for his efforts to try to save Dallas from making the Jason Kidd trade.

While the Mavs were busy locking up unproductive swingmen, they re-upped Antoine Wright for two years and $3.6 million, too. This announcement was a bit of a surprise to me, given that it came right after I talked to an exec who was on the fence about whether to offer Wright a deal for the minimum.

I don't really get it either John, but if you have followed the Mavs closely the past few summers, these moves don't really come to much of a surprise.  Filling a roster of really old or "a lot of upside with no risk" spare parts for the SG/SF spot is something the Mavs deserve an A+ in.  Though the George signing is still baffling.

 

How is your team, physically, heading into camp?

Right now, everything is good. There were a few things over the summer that had to be resolved. Brandon (Bass) had a thing with his right shoulder that didn't require surgery. He's made the kind of progress that they believed he would make. So he's here now working out. Everybody else has been good. JJ (Barea) has a little minor back thing, but that should be OK in a couple days.

I dont remember there being any reports of Bass struggling with his shoulder last year, so this comes to me at a little bit of a surprise.  One has to wonder though how much of that limited him working on his game this summer though.  Can we expect an improvement from last season, or was his time spent rehabbing his shoulder? 

I also am curious to see what kind of shape Diop is in, now that he has been paid.  The summer he came to Dallas the first time, he lost a ton of weight.  An overweight Diop wont help his chances of not only starting, but being as effective on the defensive end.  Either way, Kidd is going to have this team running.

What did you think of the Houston Rockets trading for Ron Artest, who was on some of your most successful teams at Indiana?

It's a significant move because he's an impact player. It's easy to see why expectations are going to be sky high there with that trio of stars (Artest, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming) and a real good supporting cast. It just makes this division a little tougher.

I know that you have to hold back some of your true feelings when dealing with the media, but you have to believe this was a huge blow to the organization.  Before this trade, they were in the mix of being the 2nd best team in this division.  Realistically, an outsider cant look at this division right now and see the Mavs as being any better than the 4th, maybe 3rd best (pending the health of the Spurs big 3) team in the division. 

But we all know how Houston handles their high pre-season expectations.

What would you consider a quality season for the Mavericks?

I have never put a number on any of that stuff. Maybe you're setting the bar too low. You never know. So for us, it's going to be about competing at a championship level and at the highest possible level and competing our best. If we do that, then the number of wins will take care of itself.

I'm not coming in here trying to set the bar low or anything like that. I don't think you come into a city like Dallas or a franchise like this or to an owner like Mark Cuban trying to curtail expectations. I just think that's sending the wrong message to everybody.

Carlise really needed to answer his question with one word.  Championship.  If that's not the mentality of this organization, there is no hope.  After all, that's what we have all been fed with the Jason Kidd deal, the firing of AJ, and the acquisitions of Diop, Wright and (gulp) George.  Don't downplay the absolute importance that this team has to be another championship or bust mission like they were in '06.

What kind of style will fans see when the season tips off Oct. 30?

Our strength is obviously going to be our trio of top players with Dirk, Jason Kidd and Josh (Howard). And I'd also put Jason Terry and (Jerry) Stackhouse into that mix because those are veteran guys who have been through the wars. I expect those guys to play big for us.

Our center position is terrific. We've got a strength in numbers situation along with some terrific players. We're going to have to perform well in close games. That's an area where, two years ago, the Mavericks won seemingly every close game, and last year there was a falloff. There's a fine line between 67 wins and 51 wins. But that's the way it is. We're going to be in a lot of tight games, and we're going to have to be able to finish.

No surprise here, as we all knew that the team's success will mainly lie on our big 3.  Terry can be included in the importance of the teams success, but it won't lie on his shoulders this year.  Nor will it lie with Stackhouse.  Both of those guys will need to show up for us at times, when one of the big three dont show up, but to expect them to play on the same levels that we are expecting our big 3 to play at is not realistic.

"Strength in numbers" definitely applies to the center and maybe power forward position, but not much else.  Having a plethora of spare 2/3's behind Josh and ? is not strength in numbers. Same goes with the pg spot, a  combination of JJ and JET, to go along with Kidd is questionable in saying there is "strength in numbers" at that spot. 

A difference of 16 wins, is hardly a fine line, but a good point he brings up here.  Dallas won A LOT of close games two years ago, but only 5-8 of those are ones that MAYBE could have gone either way.  That team was good, we can't discredit that, but finishing games, especially the close ones, will be critical for this team to regain confidence and move deeper into the playoffs.

You mentioned the center position. Is that starting spot open? And is the shooting guard spot open, too?

Possibly. I think we have to look at it and say Jason Kidd, Dirk and Josh are going to be starters. There are possibilities at the other spots. I don't think it's fair to say right now that we've penciled anybody in.

I love the fact that Stackhouse has embraced being a part of this franchise as one of the best sixth men in the game. And I know he's willing to continue to do that. But there's also a chance that maybe he should start. I don't think any kind of prognostication on my part at this point is fair. That's why you have training camp, to figure those things out.

I feel ok with Stack starting and bringing in Terry off the bench fairly quickly, even though Stackhouse was really a disappointment last year.  He has to get his 3 pt shooting back above 40% if he wants to stay in this rotation.  The one thing you can say about Stack, is that he brings a chip on his shoulder though that no one else in our rotation of spares can bring night in and night out.  If his game is reminisent of what it was last year, then quickly park him or ship him, and let a young guy like Wright or Green come in to embrace that roll and develop.   The key will be to get PRODUCTION from that spot. 

If Rick wants to start off with Stack at that spot, fine.  What will separate Rick from Avery in this aspect, will be to see if he lets a guy like Stack struggle through his game at a declining point in his career, or let some of the young guys struggle their way through their games at a young age with the hopes that they develop into a consistent player.

I also think Diop fits in better with Kidd offensively, than even Damp did.  Even though Damp's offensive game significantly got better when Kidd arrived last year, I think potential for Diop's can be even better.

And the centers?

(Erick) Dampier is a damn good starting center in this league. He really is. And (DeSagana) Diop is a guy who would start on a lot of teams, as well. That's a great battle, and that position is going to be one of the strengths of our team.

If you're going to be a championship-caliber team, defense and rebounding are critical. They are things that are often overlooked to a certain degree. No one has won the NBA championship playing small ball yet. There are teams that have won it that have the ability to go small. But you still have to have size to compete at the highest level. That's why Dampier and Diop, that's why we value those guys so much.

If we can get the same type of production at the defensive end from these two that we have seen in years past, we are going to be pretty tough defensively.  Even with the aging perimeter guys on this team, having a defensive presence like these two really covers up some of those weaknesses.  I predict that once again, the anchor of this defense will come from the center position.

The only reference point fans have for Jason Kidd is how he struggled in Avery Johnson's offense. At 35, has his age caught up to him?

Jason Kidd? I'm ecstatic to be in the same locker room with J-Kidd. Jason has hammered my teams so much through the years. I'll say this: If people want to doubt his abilities, let them go ahead. But I would caution them against it. You should never underestimate greatness.

I would say that as a point of reference, we also have the Olympics to go with.  It was obvious to me that in order for Kidd to be even remotely effective, the team will HAVE to run.  I would say that his age hasn’t impaired his ability on the offensive end, but the defensive side of his game is another story.  He has the knowledge to be in the right places at the right times, but the legs just aren't what they used to be.  He can be physical with the larger guards, but against the quicker ones he will continue to struggle.  This is where the Center position will need to be at its best in helping Kidd out when the likes of Paul, Williams and Parker blow right by him.

I don't doubt his abilities to run the show, and do certain things on the offensive end, but greatness?  Greatness might have been 3-4 years ago when he was on the All-Defensive team AND running an effective offense.  It'll be great if we can just get him to do his thing on offense consistently, and not be a huge liability on defense. 

Do you expect this roster to be the one that opens the season?

Yeah, unless there was some kind of a trade, which I doubt there will be. We've got 14 contracts, so we got a 15th spot that we may look at. Maybe some other veteran will fall through the cracks. Or maybe we keep a young player. But this is it for now.

Discouraging words to hear for most of the already discouraged fans.  I think we all pretty much saw this coming, but because we had been somewhat led to believe something else, we still had hope for a more complete roster.  Primarily in the starting line up regarding the SG position.  I still think that we are one piece away from truly contending for a title, no matter how things turn out.  I hope I'm wrong, but look for the Mavs to still do a deal sometime during the regular season to improve our SG spot.

 

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