Exclusive: 1-On-1 With Mavs' Carlisle
Fish: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a policy about renegotiating coach's deals. Did you understand the policy? Was there an understanding of sorts all year long that you guys would come to an agreement?
Carlisle: "As a matter of fact, we did talk throughout the year. I wasn't in a big hurry. For one thing, the whole team was free agents. That's part of sports, and traditionally, free agents work even harder at their jobs. I feel I did that. I also wanted to minimize the attention on the issue. This is a fluid league. Things can change. So you just do your job. "This is a big commitment, from both sides. We came to an agreement. It's all good.''
Fish: You've talked about the Mavs going forward as a positive thing, as an "opportunity.'' But I assume you bump into some of the same negativity that I do, that even with a championship in your pocket there are some folks with a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mindset. As a guy with a degree in Psychology from the University of Virginia, what do you make of that human habit?
Carlisle: "Well, I wouldn't speculate on the level of a psychologist. I took the psychology classes in part as a bonding thing with some other guys in the team! But I think life in general can be a struggle. It can be a struggle to view things in a positive way. I find myself always working to do that.''
Fish: Speaking of work, here it comes. Let's begin with the knowledge you must have, even as a coach, of the CBA and the rules.
Carlisle: "Well, we've got the very best in Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson. The best. As a coach, and having some involvement in the evaluations and decision-making, yeah, you've got to know the rules. For one thing, if you don't, you can find yourself violating them without even knowing it. These rules are detailed and specific. And justifiably so.''
Fish: On a related subject, one of your mentors, the late Chuck Daly, was a coaching lifer. I think he had the chances to be a GM, but always stayed on the sideline. Do you ever contemplate moving upstairs? Or as much as I know you love the teaching aspect, are you a coaching lifer?
Carlisle: "The problem with being a GM is that your work is never done. You are in the office and on the phone all the time. At some point might I want to do it? Maybe. But I do know I love coaching. I like the metabolism of coaching. There is a mental intensity, and then there is a bit of downtime.''
Fish: I know you aren't planning much downtime this summer, though. You've said that maybe the roster won't be completely turned over, but we know that if you get that "big fish,'' big changes are coming with it. Can you talk about the goals, and the timetable that is really about not just this summer but next summer, too?
Carlisle: "Well, we know what the timetable is that we would like. Sooner is better, obviously. And the goal, really, simply, is to get to a point where Dirk Nowitzki is our second-best player.''
Fish: Traditionally in sports, New York and Los Angeles are viewed (and/or view themselves) as the primo destinations for players. Can Dallas be somewhere on that level?
Carlisle: "We believe it can. We believe it is. And we are going to sell it that way. The guys who've been here (veteran Mavs players) and who've won a championship here can and will help sell it. This is a championship organization with the chance to reinvent itself. That's a special opportunity, something special to be a part of.''
Fish: So what's the celebratory plans? Take the family to dinner? Or go watch some film?
Carlisle: "Well, Fish, to me this is not a time for a big celebration. There's a responsibility that comes with this commitment, again, from both sides. I'm going to work even harder. I'm going to help the Dallas Mavericks be even more resourceful and then more successful. So really, it's time to go to work.''
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