Nearly 20 years ago, Jerry Jones lied to himself about the importance of having a quality coach.
Six coaches later, he’s still searching for the next Jimmy Johnson. Maybe Jason Garrett is the guy for the Dallas Cowboys. Who knows? It’s still too early to tell.
That brings us to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who often fancies himself the smartest dude in the room.
Most of the time, he is. But if he doesn’t sign Rick Carlisle to a new deal real soon, then he’s not as smart as we think.
Yo Mark, get it done. Pay the man.
There’s no need to wait a week or two. Carlisle is among the NBA’s best coaches — and he has a shiny championship bauble with glittering diamonds to prove it.
You’re not going to find a better coach. Phil Jackson ain’t coaching the Mavs. Gregg Popovich ain’t leaving the San Antonio Spurs. SMU just hired Larry Brown, and you don’t want Kentucky’s John Calipari.
So quit jacking with Carlisle and get a deal done, so we can focus on free agency.
We’ve all heard the same chatter. Carlisle loves it here. He loves working for Cuban and the Mavs. When two parties like each other, a deal gets done.
OK, so what’s taking so long?
We all know Cuban should’ve given Carlisle a new deal soon after the Mavs won the only title in franchise history, but we’ve been told Cuban doesn’t work that way.
As Jerry found out, every coach can’t be replaced. Sure, you can replace the man, but it’s considerably more difficult to replace the man’s intangibles.
And you’re fooling yourself if you think the Texas Rangers would be playing at the same high level without Ron Washington in the dugout. Washington gives the Rangers swag with his unbridled emotion.
Carlisle gives the Mavs an edge because he holds every player accountable. You don’t find that too often in the NBA, a league in which players often have more power than the coach.
The players understand Carlisle’s mantra. “Be ready” is not just lip service. He communicates well — even if he’s having difficult conversations with players. What’s not to like about the way he handled the Lamar Odomsituation?
First, he praised Odom. Then he criticized him while telling the world that he needed to play, “like his pants were on fire.” At the end, Carlisle grew weary of answering questions about Odom.
That’s when we knew Odom’s days were limited.
Carlisle’s also not afraid to admit when he screws up, whether it was not getting Terry enough shots in the second half of the Game 1 series loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder or failing to make a defensive adjustment on Brandon Roy in Game 4 of the Mavs’ first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers last season.
See, Carlisle holds himself to the same high standard as the players. Not every coach does that because they’re too busy covering their own behinds.
Cuban also needs to consider that Carlisle understands how to coexist with the tempestuous owner. Carlisle doesn’t mind that Cuban sits next to the bench and occasionally yells at the players louder and longer than Carlisle does as they come off the court.
Remember, it was Cuban — not Carlisle — who had a locker room confrontation with Odom during halftime of a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies that ultimately led to the Mavs making Odom inactive the rest of the season.
Essentially, Cuban fired Odom that afternoon. Some coaches would resent that. Carlisle remained focused on the season.
If he’s honest, Cuban knows he gave Carlisle an emotionally fragile and dysfunctional team after he gutted the roster to ensure the Mavs would have cap room this summer.
Carlisle probably should have received votes for coach of the year after guiding this team with eight players in their 30s to a 36-30 record.
The first step in becoming a contender again is for the Mavs to sign Deron Williams. It’ll be easier if Williams knows Carlisle is the coach.
This is no time for arrogance. Or petulance. Hopefully, Cuban will learn from Jerry’s mistake.
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