If Rajon Rondo decided the Mavericks needed to choose between him and Rick Carlisle, nobody had any doubt whom Dallas would choose.
It wasn’t just that Rondo’s short tenure had gone about as poorly as imaginable. Carlisle is highly regarded by his bosses – perhaps even more than we realized.
Donnie Nelson, via Earl K. Sneed:
“Rick (Carlisle) is our Jerry Sloan,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson proclaimed after the team’s first-round playoff exit. “I think he’s one of the top coaches in the league, if not the top coach. We’re blessed and lucky to have him. He can be in Dallas as long as he wants to be.”
Carlisle is a fantastic coach. He’s been molded by successful stints with the Pistons and Pacers, and he’s grown even better in Dallas. His ability to install a sound defense remains, and he has become much more flexible offensively.
But NBA coaches just don’t get this type of job security. I’m not sure even Gregg Popovich has it, though if anyone does, it’s the Spurs coach.
The Mavericks probably won’t find a better coach if they ever fire Carlisle, but that doesn’t always matter. Sometimes, teams just need different coaches. It’s a job that requires being demanding of players who make more money, often during high-stress situations. It’s nearly impossible to cross that minefield while keeping everyone happy. Eventually, a coach’s message wears thin.
I don’t think Carlisle is near that point, and with seven seasons in Dallas under his belt, he’s already lasted longer than most. But odds are a time comes he wears out his welcome with the Mavericks.