The Mavs have become the seventh team to join the fray looking for a new head coach.
Longtime Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle decided to step down from his post last Thursday after 13 successful years in the job, including a 2011 campaign when he and Dirk Nowitzki led the franchise to its first and only NBA title after besting the Lebron James Miami Heat.
Carlisle’s departure from the Big D came just one day after Donnie Nelson (son of legendary Hall of Fame coach Don Nelson), who had been with the team since 1998 as assistant general manager, general manager, and most recently, president of basketball operations.
“After a number of in-person conversations with Mark Cuban over the last week, today I informed him that I will not be returning as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks,” Carlisle said in a statement. “This was solely my decision. My family and I have had an amazing 13-year experience working with great people in a great city.”
“Dallas will always be home, but I am excited about the next chapter of my coaching career,” added Carlisle.
Mavericks exuberant owner Mark Cuban spoke glowingly about just the second coach he has hired to coach since buying the Mavericks nearly 22 years ago back in January of 2000.
“I truly love Rick Carlisle,” Cuban told ESPN. “He was not only a good coach but also a friend and a confidant. Our relationship was so much more than basketball. And I know that won’t ever change.”
Carlisle put up a 555-478 regular season record which resulted in nine playoff berths in 13 seasons as well as a 33-38 postseason record during his nearly decade and a half at the helm of the Mavericks franchise.
In the decade since reaching the pinnacle and winning the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2011, however, the Mavericks have not made it out of the first round of the playoffs. Carlisle had been the third-longest tenured coach in the NBA after Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs (25 years) and Erik Spoelstra with the Miami Heat (13 years).
Before they start looking to fill the enormous shoes Carlisle left behind on the sideline, the team will find themselves a new president of basketball operations to fill Nelson’s shoes in the front office first, Cuban told ESPN.
While you’d be hard-pressed to find someone to put their name on it, it seems pretty clear that a big reason for Carlisle’s departure was his rocky relationship with franchise player Luka Doncic, sources told ESPN.
The 61-year-old coach and the 22-year-old phenom simply did not jive with one another, as the young Slovenian was seen going at it with his coach on the sideline this season several times, animated hand gestures and screaming and all. For some, that kind of relationship can breed success, but for others, it speaks to an incompatibility that can no longer be borne.
After their Game 7 loss in the first round to the L.A. Clippers—who are offering tasty -105 NBA odds on their moneyline for Game 3 of the Western Finals against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night—Cuban had said that Carlisle was not on the hot seat, but evidently that had not been the case.
Doncic does, however, have a good working relationship with Mavs assistant coach Jamahl Mosley, who is surely going to be on the list of possible successors to Carlisle.
Mosley starred at the University of Colorado from 1997-2001 before playing overseas for four seasons in Australia, Spain, and South Korea. He then moved on to the coaching ranks, this time in the NBA. He spent five years with the Denver Nuggets before moving to the Cleveland Cavaliers as an assistant in the four years between LeBron James’ two stints there. Eventually, Mosley landed in Dallas in 2014, where he has been an assistant ever since.
Mosley has interviewed for several top head coaching positions in the NBA over the past several years, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, and New Orleans Pelicans all inviting him in for a chat. The 42-year-old also filled in as acting head coach for an April 2nd game this season which Carlisle could not attend due to COVID.
“He’s got the things that are needed for a head coach,” Doncic said of Mosley. “He can be the head coach, for sure.”
Carlisle is one of just 11 people to have won an NBA championship as both a player (1986 with the Celtics) and a head coach and will now hit a head coaching market in the NBA where he will very likely be in high demand.
He had spent 11 years in the assistant coaching ranks of the NBA working for teams such as the New Jersey Nets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Indiana Pacers before earning the head coaching job with the Detroit Pistons in 2001. He held that gig for two years and won a Coach of the Year award in 2002, but was canned in 2003 due to friction with Detroit brass.
He then returned to Indiana where he reunited with former teammate Larry Bird, who had just recently returned as president of basketball operations, whereupon he fired Isaiah Thomas and hired Carlisle, who went 181-147 in four seasons. His tenure included a Conference Finals appearance in his first season and the infamous Malice at the Palace incident (between his new team and his old team) in his second year.