Update: ESPN's Marc Stein has confirmed from Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle that Melvin Hunt is indeed joining the coaching staff to be a lead assistant next season.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle confirms earlier ESPN report that former Nuggets coach Melvin Hunt is joining Dallas staff as lead assistant— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 19, 2015
Stein also detailed the fate of Monte Mathis, the Mavs lead assistant from the past few years and their defensive coordinator. Mathis has been offered the D-League coaching job over at the Texas Legends in Frisco, unless he finds another NBA job with another team. Eduardo Najera, who had been coaching the Legends, has been promoted to the Mavs' scouting department.
This is basically a demotion for Mathis, who took over that defensive coordinator role after Dwane Casey took the head coaching job in Toronto. I can imagine the Mavs are ready for a change at that spot after their first-round series against the Rockets where the Mavs showed zero defensive resistance.
Sure, part of that was the total ineptitude of the roster (and a glaring weak spot in Dirk) but the Mavs looked way too overwhelmed schematically against the Rockets and a little under prepared. The Mavs failed to really adjust and catch up as they lost the series in five games. It wasn't just my eyes -- plenty of NBA scribes noted how strange it was to see the Dallas' defense overmatched strategically. It was like the Mavs never even thought about another team attacking them like that. Looks like no more shots of a frantic Mathis on the sideline anymore.
So Mathis is likely gone (Zach Lowe from Grantland has written previously that Mathis is a well-regarded coach among the league), Hunt is in and Najera is now in a position where he can maybe whack someone in the Mavs front office over the head when they suggest to trade down and draft a combo guard that can't shoot.
Hunt finished the season in Denver after Brian Shaw was fired in March, but was passed over this month as the full-time coach in favor of Mike Malone. Hunt started in the league in 1999 as a video coordinator for the Houston Rockets and has worked his way up to lead assistant material.
At media day, Rick Carlisle said he didn't anticipate any change to his assistant staff, but the NBA changes quickly. If Hunt does sign, this is a great get for Dallas, and may help accelerate Hunt to real head coaching position in the near future. Both of Carlisle's from the 2011 championship season were signed as head coaches elsewhere within the year.
Last season, Kaleb Canales and Monte Mathis were Carlisle's two lead assistants.