Think about some of the top stories in the NBA in the last week or so. Derek Fisher was fired as coach of the Knicks on Wednesday. George Karl went from fired to not fired. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek was shown the door at the beginning of the month. This is just for February.
David Blatt was fired from the Eastern Conference leading Cavaliers not too long ago. Kevin McHale was fired from the Rockets near the start of the season. Lionel Hollins is gone from the Nets. There are even more coaches on the hot seat, with Memphis' Dave Joerger rumored to see the axe after a weird season for the Grizzlies.
As all this destruction and dysfunction occurs around various NBA organizations, there are the Mavericks. The little Mavericks, just plodding along, winning games with an overachieving roster and Rick Carlisle once again pulling off a coaching masterpiece.
This is Carlisle's eighth season, and he's inked an extension for five more years. It's beginning to seem like health permitting, Carlisle will be with the Mavericks for as long as he wants. It's the kind of stability unheard of outside of Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.
Even Eric Spoelstra, the second-longest tenured coach (hired a week before Carlisle), endured plenty of hot seat rumors, especially when the Miami Heat struggled out the gate in LeBron's first season. Some Heat fans still want to see the team move on from him (although this is a minority opinion). There's never been that concern with Carlisle. In fact, the only worries come from whether Carlisle himself would bolt because he's tired of Mark Cuban's constant roster shuffling.
Carlisle's here to stay and he's once again getting the most out of his roster. Raymond Felton is a part-time clutch contributor and key cog off the bench. Zaza Pachulia is averaging a double-double. Dwight Powell is a factor. JaVale McGee doesn't look totally horrendous when he gets on the floor. Deron Williams is enjoying a bounce back season. He's managed all this while also working around the injuries and recoveries of Wes Matthews and Chandler Parsons.
So it's clear Carlisle has earned his job security. He continually makes lemonade out of lemons, churning out winning seasons despite the non-Dirk parts of the roster flip-flopping. He helped bring a title in 2011 and he's only had one losing season on his head-coaching record, his final in Indiana after the brawl with the Pistons fractured what was a conference heavyweight.
It's even crazier to think about Carlisle's longevity in terms of him adapting to the league around him. Carlisle started head coaching in 2001 with the Detroit Pistons. He grew his coaching chops in the mid-2000s where the NBA was a defensive oriented, half-court, isolation heavy slug-fest outside of the offensive oasis' in Phoenix, Dallas and Sacramento.
Think about that style of basketball back then. Think about how much it's changed. The NBA has gotten smaller, faster and smarter. Play is free flowing, positions aren't set in stone and the three-pointer reigns supreme. Somehow, Carlisle thrived in that slow, big, defensive era and then came to thrive in the new pace and space NBA we know now.
He did it by never pigeonholing a roster into a set system. Unlike great coaches like Mike D'Antoni, Don Nelson and even to an extent Avery Johnson, Carlisle adapted to his roster -- not the other way around.
If his owner gave him fast players, he'll play fast (like he did when the Mavs had a young roster in 2012-2013). Give him old players and he'll slow it down. Give him good defenders and he'll tailor a smothering defensive unit. Give him post players and he'll coach a post up team. Give him a rim runner (Tyson Chandler) and he'll transition his post up/isolation monster Dirk into a spot-up, pick and pop dynamo. Sure, there are now hallmarks to a Carlisle team (smart passing, capable shooting and playmaking from the backcourt, a soft spot for running pick-and-rolls) but there's never been a sure-fire set system like some great coaches that have now fizzled out had.
It's what makes our incessant bitching about Carlisle all the more silly. Sure, Carlisle has his quirks, but imagine being Sacramento right now? Or Phoenix. Or Brooklyn. The Mavericks have it so good, and there's no doubt the fanbase (myself included) takes it for granted how the stability of the front office and the coaching staff has ensured Dallas is always competitive.
That's why Carlisle has stuck around and why he always will. Wherever the NBA goes, Carlisle won't be too far behind, scheming, scouting and adapting to a game he brilliantly knows.