The Dallas Mavericks and Rick Carlisle parted ways this offseason, though it didn't take long for the veteran head coach to land a new gig, reuniting with the Indiana Pacers with whom he coached for four years before joining the Mavs.
Despite 13 seasons in Dallas coming to a close, Carlisle and the Mavs didn't appear to end on anything other than solid terms. And the 61-year-old had nothing but praise for Luka Doncic while speaking with ESPN's Tim MacMahon on Thursday:
"I just sent [Doncic] a message thanking him for three amazing years. I learned many things from him, and I told him that I'm glad I'm only going to see him twice a year. I mean it in the most complimentary way, of course. I think he's the best young player in the world. I think these three years set up as a major springboard for the next 10 for him. I expect him to be an NBA champion. I expect him to be a multiple MVP winner. I just have an amazing level of respect for his abilities and his grasp of the game. He's truly a once-in-the-generation type player.
"I sat with Luka two years ago, and I told him that I was going to give him the ball, I was going to allow him to create, I was going to allow him to shape his career, to make mistakes, to make great plays, to go through winning, to go through losing, and that I felt that it was a very important part of who he was going to become as a player. He's taken that responsibility and trust, and he's turned it into a supermax career. But I believe he also understands that legacies are truly about championships. That was his history in Europe, and I predict that it will be his history in the NBA as well."
Not everything was always rosy between Doncic and Carlisle.
Tim Cato and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported earlier in June that some Mavericks players were "frustrated with Carlisle after they lost playing time despite doing exactly what they felt he had asked of them, and for stiff rotation patterns, the latter of which they viewed—correctly, team sources confirm—as being dictated directly to him by [director of quantitative research and development Haralabos] Voulgaris. Early on, Doncic also disliked Carlisle's timeouts and frequent calling of plays."
But per that report, Carlisle adjusted his approach to suit Doncic.
The 22-year-old has been nothing short of spectacular in his three NBA seasons, averaging 25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game in his career. He was the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year and is already a two-time All-Star and a two-time first-team All-NBA selection.
Really, the only thing Doncic hasn't achieved in his short career is an MVP award or a playoff series win. So things are going pretty well thus far.
As for who his next head coach will be, multiple reports Thursday linked the Mavs to Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd:
Carlisle also publicly said he was rooting for Kidd to land the gig.
"My hope is that Jason Kidd will be the next coach of the Mavs because he and Luka have so many things in common as players," he said. "I just think that it would be a great situation for Luka, and I think it would be an amazing situation for Jason. I'm the only person on the planet that's coached both of those guys and that knows about all of their special qualities as basketball players. To me, that just would be a great marriage, but that's just an opinion."