Head Coach Rick Carlisle...After One Year with the Dallas Mavericks

Janet KesslerCorrespondent IMay 25, 2009

DALLAS - MAY 11:  Head coach Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 11, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The honeymoon is officially over...

But that's not a bad thing.  Head coach Rick Carlisle has completed his first season with the Dallas Mavericks.

Can we call this first year a success? 

I think so. 

Frustrating, but a success nonetheless.

The Mavericks did break the first-round-and-out curse against the San Antonio Spurs.  Let's face it, putting a smack-down on the Spurs is a good day any day.

Even after the Mavericks failed to advance past the second rounds of the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets, they still achieved more than most people gave the Mavericks a chance of accomplishing.

A marriage made in heaven?

Last summer, Rick Carlisle was hired to replace fired head coach Avery Johnson.  What he got was a team that had pretty much tormented itself to death.

Having failed in the first round of the playoffs for the past two seasons, the Mavericks were looking for a new direction at the head coach.

Before the season started, I found myself liking coach Carlisle.  He put it on himself to personally visit every member of the roster at the player's home. 

...Even as far as Germany to visit with Dirk Nowitzki and his family.  

Carlisle sat in on workouts with Dirk and his personal coach Holger Geschwindner.  He even suggested a few things to have Holger work Dirk on.

Coach Carlisle made it clear to the bench, "just be ready" at the beginning of the season.  Time for the bench and role-players wasn't guaranteed.

This means if one player played well one night that it didn't translate into extra minutes the next game.  Coach Carlisle was determined to play the best matchup for the over-all win.

The starting two-guard proved to be a hard fill.  After exhausting every possible lineup, a suitable starter could not be found. 

Finally, months into the season, Antoine Wright won the starting job.

For better, for worse:

Starting the season 2-7 and 0-4 at home was a lousy way to start a relationship with the Mavericks.  To say it was a strenuous start was an understatement.

Finding ways to win was no easy feat. 

The Mavericks developed a knack of losing games that should have been given wins...Especially if the opposing teams were missing their star players. 

To make this even more confusing, every player was putting up great stat-lines.  Check it out yourself if you don't believe me.  Some of the guys were having a career best season.

This was a season that seemed like everything was stacked against the Mavericks.  They just could not piece themselves together.

Somehow the Mavericks were able to gut out a very hot run to close the season.  It started the last week of April with the Howard's return.  We finally witness the Mavericks playing the way we were hoping to see all season.

The Mavericks accomplished the unthinkable by making the play-off, but not as the eighth-seed with a date with the LA Lakers

No, no sixth-seed, but with a rumble with the San Antonio Spurs.

It all ended against the Denver Nuggetts.  It was a sweet, promising, but all too short run. 

We relished it while it lasted.

The biggest culprit for the demise of the Mavericks' season can be said in one sentence: The Mavericks were just not healthy.

In sickness and in health:

Did I mention the word frustrating already? 

The Mavericks had more injuries than any season I can remember.  And not just one or two gamers, I'm talking weeks, months, and season ending injuries.

First there was Jerry Stackhouse:   Was told at training camp by Coach Carlisle that he had a shot at being the starting two-guard.

Stackhouse's poor old body had other things in mind.  Unable to play due to a chronic injured foot, he made ten cameo appearances throughout the season.

Devean George:  Blew his ACL in March.  After needed knee surgery, George was done for the season.

Shawne Williams:   I can't tell you if he was injured in a game or at practice.  The guy kind of disappeared off the bench anyway.

Jason Terry:   At midseason Terry suffered a broken hand.  It required surgery to repair the damage.  Fortunately for Terry and the Mavericks, he was able to recover very quickly.

Josh Howard:  The most costly injury of the season.  Howard missed 31 games due to injuries to his left wrist and left ankle.

Medical update:  At the time of this writing, Howard had just underwent arthroscopic surgery to his left wrist and ankle. 

Word from the Mavericks is that the surgery was successful and are hopeful Howard will be ready for training camp in  Sept. 28.

Keeping the Kidd(s) happy:

At the season start, play calling was through coach Carlisle—similar to former head coach Johnson, and much to the dislike of point-guard Jason Kidd.  Near midseason, coach Carlisle gave play calling to Kidd. 

I saw him as a coach that was flexible and listened to his players.  The results were magic to watch.  After all, running the offense is what Kidd was brought here to do.

Looking to a bright future:

This summer I expect coach Carlisle to be more involved in selecting new players.  The team has specific position needs.

The NBA draft is looming over the horizon.  With the 22nd pick in hand, the Mavericks will be more on the same page with coach Carlisle.

Together they are looking for just the right mix of players; players that will compliment the current core of veterans as well as coach Carlisle's game plan.

In the end, it's all to insure the Dallas Mavericks are once again among the elite in the NBA.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.