When the Dallas Mavericks' season ended this past Saturday, all the talk began to shift toward the biggest summer in Mavs' history thanks to a chance of signing All-Star point guard Deron Williams and maybe a few other names along the way.
But lost in the shuffle of all of the free agent talk is one very important person that Dallas can't afford to lose—Rick Carlisle.
Yes, the man who coached the Mavs to their first NBA championship is also a free-agent-to-be along with the likes of Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Brandan Wright and Delonte West.
Well, no offense to any of those wonderful basketball players, but before anyone cuts their checks, especially Terry, Carlisle must be priority No. 1 for Dallas—before July hits and before the free agent bonanza begins.
The reason to bring him back isn't just because he brought the title to Dallas, nor is it because he's only one of three active coaches in the NBA to win a championship, the other two being Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers. Those two statements alone are big enough to retain Carlisle at any cost.
The biggest reason that Mark Cuban should be willing to give him an extension is because he's a true players' coach.
Carlisle has made some odd decisions in the past in his coaching ways, one of the most notable being not playing Rodrigue Beaubois in the fourth quarter of Game 6 in the 2010 San Antonio series, which led to another first round exit for Dallas.
But it was from that year, when his seat was as hot as ever, that he became a players' coach. And in doing so, he led Dallas to a championship in 2011. This year, even when he didn't have as much talent, he coached an over-the-hill ball club to another playoff appearance in a condensed season.
And even though they got swept against Oklahoma City, Carlisle had that team ready to play for three of the four games, and it was on the players for not being able to close those three games. It wasn't on his coaching or his ability to lead a group, because he's already proven he can do that.
This past season was a true squash, and no Dallas fan will remember it after the NBA Finals are over. Nor should Cuban or Donnie Nelson remember it, allowing it to affect the decision on whether or not to bring back Carlisle.
His track record is a mile long and any team in the league would be lucky to have him as his coach. There are a few young teams out there that could use his leadership and guidance, and those teams wouldn't mind swooping in to give him a comfortable salary for three or four years.
Rick Carlisle deserves every bit of an extension, and Cuban would be a fool to not bring him back very soon. Who knows? If Cuban plays his cards right and gets some of those nice names in free agency, Carlisle could make another magical run next year.
If not, I hear Portland's weather is great all year.