Carlisle out as Mavs head coach
Less than 24 hours after President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh and the Dallas Mavericks agreed to part ways, the franchise was met with another stunning announcement heading into the 2021 offseason. Head Coach Rick Carlisle announced that he would not be returning to the team to coach next season. Carlisle spent 13 seasons at the helm of the Mavs, bringing the franchise its first championship in team history in 2011. He also leaves as the Mavs all-time winningest coach.
It cannot go without noting that Carlisle’s departure comes amid reports of tension between him and superstar Luka Doncic. Things including but not limited to Doncic “showing up” Carlisle and becoming visibly frustrated with his head coach at times, including in this year’s first round loss to the LA Clippers are a few examples according to “unnamed sources’’. These tensions caught the eye of the Mavericks higher-ups and they were deeply concerned moving forward. Doncic is eligible to sign a supermax extension this offseason worth just north of $200 million after being selected to the All-NBA 1st team this week and when you are getting ready to make that type of investment in a franchise player, there can be no wrinkles.
Rumors aside, what was becoming more evident was that Carlisle would be on the hot seat moving into 2022 as it stood. Other than the magical 2011 championship run, Carlisle had never led the team past the 2nd round of the playoffs. He had also become more and more scrutinized for his questionable rotations and if it was hindering the chemistry between Doncic and 7 foot 3 forward, Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis and Doncic have failed to become the dominant, championship duo that many believed was inevitable when KP was acquired in a 2019 trade with the New York Knicks. Many have also put that on Carlisle. His offense called for Doncic to dominate the ball, rarely getting KP involved as the viable number 2 option he was meant to be. Don’t get me wrong, Porzingis was terrible during the 2021 playoffs but we have to be able to see both sides of the coin on this one. There were many reports of Carlisle’s rotation actually being in the hands of Haralablos Voulgaris behind the scenes. This led to widespread tension within the organization. Although other parts of the report may be true, such as Voulgaris’s reported rift with Luka, it is hard for me to believe that a coach such as Carlisle would willingly give up his duties to someone who has barely been involved with the game of basketball without a fight.
Whatever the case may be, Carlisle and Walsh are both gone, essentially ushering in a new era in Dallas. Mark Cuban has already come out and said the team will focus on hiring a new president of basketball operations before a new head coach. However, there are a few names already being linked to the new vacancy. 2011 champion Jason Kidd, Becky Hammon, Chauncey Billups and current Mavs assistant Jamahl Mosely are all said to be linked and have interest in the job and all 4 are great candidates. Kidd and Mosely are sure to be the frontrunners considering Kidd’s history with the franchise and Mosely’s already great relationship with Doncic. After Mosely stepped in for Carlisle in an April game vs. The Knicks, Doncic had high praise for the way he coached stating “He’s got the things that are needed for a head coach. He can be the head coach, for sure.”
It was not made clear which direction Carlisle will head after resigning, but his name is being heavily linked to the vacancies in both Boston and Milwaukee should Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer be fired. Carlisle did say in his statement today that “I look forward to the next chapter in my coaching career”, which does not exactly sound like a man ready to hang it up just yet.
No matter who is the coach for the 2022 season, you can expect Luka Doncic to be the focal point of the franchise for years to come. How they can build around him is another story. The Mavs are pretty limited in the short term as far as cap flexibility and draft picks are concerned, however fans should remain confident the team can do what needs to be done despite the wide array of ridiculous rumors that seem to be dominating the internet right now. Strap in Mavs fans, it is going to be a long summer.