DALLAS, Texas—It’s a drill which Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle knows pretty well, working a number of new faces into his roster each fall.
That’s because it’s a process which Carlisle, a big reason why the Mavs made a surprising run to the 2011 NBA title, experiences at the start of training camp each September.
Dallas, who was 42-40 last season and a six seed in the Western Conference before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs to the Oklahoma City Thunder, lost several key contributors from last season, notably Chandler Parsons.
And just like in past seasons, the Mavs replaced them this summer, signing Harrison Barnes to a four-year, $94 million deal, acquiring former Warriors teammate Andrew Bogut in a trade while also signing Dallas-area native Quincy Acy along with Seth Curry and drafting young big A.J. Hammons with its lone pick in the 2016 NBA Draft in the second round.
Some coaches might grouse or even complain about such a lack of continuity in their on-court personnel each season, but this is a challenge Carlisle not only embraces but one he also looks forward to each fall.
“We [my staff and I] love it,” Carlisle said Monday during a press conference at Mavs Media Day. “What’s more exciting than getting seven new guys, new blood? It’s fresh every year.”
“You can look at it a couple of different ways. You can view it as a negative; and then if you view it as a negative, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to be a negative. I don’t look at it that way. I think it’s exciting. I love the challenge of doing it and I always love getting to know new players because I’ll learn things from our new guys.”
Carlisle spent a good deal of time this summer with Barnes, even traveling to HB’s hometown of Ames, Iowa for several days, and he has nothing but good things to say about Dallas’ most high-profile addition of the offseason.
“His skill set’s a little different, body type’s a little bit different, his personality’s a little bit different,” Carlisle said of Barnes. “We were very fortunate to be able to land him here. He’s a guy that can play two positions easily on offense and he can guard more positions than that on defense. His defensive ability and also his rebounding ability are going to be two things that we’re going to depend on.”
Carlisle is now heading into his ninth season in Dallas, leading the Mavs to the playoffs in all but one of his first eight seasons at the helm and never finishing with a losing season.
And as he looks at this year’s new faces, going through this same process numerous times in the past has given him a great picture as to what sorts of things help him integrate new players into his system more quickly and more effectively.
“There are similarities to other years. The ability to add [Andrew] Bogut and [Harrison] Barnes was huge for us. We caught some good luck on that,” Carlisle said. “Bogut’s going to be a different kind of player than we’ve ever had here at the center position with his ability to protect the rim, make plays and score on the inside. Barnes is a great worker who’s a terrific young player. He was a great system player on a championship team with the Warriors. We’re going to help him grow into a guy that’s more front and center.”
However, Carlisle isn’t the only one excited to see how well Barnes, Bogut, and the other new Mavs fit into Carlisle’s rotation. Franchise icon Dirk Nowitzki, a former regular-season and NBA Finals MVP who signed a two-year, $50 million deal this summer to presumably retire a Maverick, is also pretty stoked about the moves the front office made this summer.
“I think Harrison [Barnes] is a great guy, and he’s going to fit in perfectly. We think the sky’s the limit for him,” Nowitzki said. “I think it’s going to be fun playing with him, and he’s definitely going to make me work. He wants to be great and a guy like that you have to root to succeed.”
And the big German is equally excited about now playing alongside Bogut after having battled him for a number of years as an opposing player.
“Yeah, I think all the good teams have a rim protector and must have a good rim protector. He’s very smart, and I think whether it’s zone or man-to-man, he should be back there anchoring our defense,” Nowitzki said of Bogut. “Offensively, I think he’s one of the best passing big men this league has. He’s tough and wants to win.”