Tag:Mavericks
Posted on: June 2, 2011 8:06 pm
 

Malone to meet with Warriors' owner


MIAMI -- Hornets assistant Michael Malone will meet with Warriors owner Joe Lacob about the team's vacant head coaching position and also will interview for a position on Mike Brown's staff with the Lakers, a person with knowledge of the searches told CBSSports.com Thursday.

The meetings will take place in the next three or four days, the person said.

Malone, who worked for Brown in Cleveland, is high on the former Cavs coach's list of candidates to join his staff in L.A. But Lacob, who is narrowing the field in his search for Keith Smart's replacement, indicated that he wanted to meet with Malone in person before Malone made a decision on joining the Lakers' staff. Barring a head coaching offer, Malone's interview for the position on Brown's staff would be little more than a formality, as Brown is comfortable working with him and is said to want him on the staff.

ABC/ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson and Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer are the only candidates known to have met with Lacob, who is putting his stamp on the team's coaching search. It is not clear whether Budenholzer wants to leave San Antonio.

Though the Raptors are in the early stages of their search for Jay Triano's replacement, Malone could garner some interest for that position as well. Raptors president Bryan Colangelo is looking for an experienced coach -- not necessarily with head coaching experience -- who can teach defense. Malone is Monty Williams' lead assistant in New Orleans, and he coached both sides of the ball under Brown in Cleveland. 

Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank and Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey also are expected to become candidates in Toronto, where a significant reorganization is planned for after July 1 with Colangelo seeking a high-level basketball man to fill the position vacated when Masai Ujiri left for the Nuggets, sources said. 






Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:42 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 10:15 pm
 

Stern: Will be 'challenge' to avoid lockout

MIAMI – NBA owners and players will meet Wednesday for a “full-blown bargaining session” in the hopes of gaining momentum toward a new collective bargaining agreement before a lockout is imposed July 1, commissioner David Stern said Tuesday night.

In his annual pre-Finals media address, Stern said it will be a “challenge” for both sides to move off their current positions in time to avert a work stoppage, the threat of which already has begun damaging the business.

“The question is whether the owners and the players will be bold enough to do what has to be done here to keep this sport on the tack that it is on now, which is straight up,” Stern said.

Two bargaining sessions already had been scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday in Dallas during the Finals, but Wednesday’s session in Miami was added after the National Basketball Players Association introduced what Stern described after his media address as a new “concept” last week. Stern described the status of negotiations as a “give and take,” and said the players haven’t submitted a formal counterproposal to the owners’ revised proposal, which was handed over in April.

"We told the players and the owners to bring their negotiating talents to South Beach," Stern said.

Stern said the players’ new proposed concept addressed one of the key issues the owners are trying to resolve in their efforts to vastly change the financial landscape of the sport in favor of the owners. Asked after his media address if the players’ new concept moved the negotiating needle, Stern said, “We have a deal that nothing moves the needle until the moved the needle is moved. We have no agreement on anything until there’s agreement on everything.”

During a Q&A with assembled media before Game 1 between the Heat and Mavericks, Stern declined to offer a percentage chance of a lengthy lockout. He also was asked to compare his feelings on that topic to how he felt during All-Star weekend in February.

“I can’t answer that,” Stern said. “I don’t even want to make guesses, because I know that both sides will make their best offers before the lockout – because if they don’t, then there’s going to be a lockout that would be destructive to our business from the owners’ perspective and the players’ perspective.”

Progress made last week in a small negotiation session in New York was “encouraging enough that we think tomorrow is time well spent and we think the two days next week will be well spent," Stern said.

Asked after his media address why he’s so confident a worse deal would be struck after July 1, Stern said, “Because the damage gets to be intense from our perspective. We know the deal can get worse.”

Asked for whom it would become worse, Stern said, “For the players. And to us, the deal will get worse for the owners. So we’ve got to decide to focus fully on how bad it will be after July 1. So June 30 is a really important date.”

Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver were asked several times about whether a new CBA would require a team like Miami – with three stars on the books for $46 million next season – to be broken up. The owners have proposed a $45 million hard cap to replace the current soft-cap/luxury tax system. Their revised proposal offered to phase in those changes over a two-year period, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com. But the union viewed that offer as not much of an offer, since such drastic changes would have to be phased in by definition without across-the-board salary cuts, which the players will never accept.

Pressed on the issue of what happens to the Heat in a new CBA, Stern said after his address, “That hasn’t really been addressed. But I would expect (the team) to be together. I hope so.”

But at one point, Silver made a comment that is expected to rankle the Heat stars and other top-tier players in an attempt to explain the economics of why owners believe the current system is broken.

“Costs have risen much faster than revenues over the course of this deal,” Silver said. “… At the same time, non-player costs are growing at a much higher percentage, and the built-in increases of our contracts are much higher than inflation and the growth of our business. For example, the three key players on the Heat all have 10.5 percent per year increases built into their deals for next year, at a point when revenues in our business are growing somewhere around 3 percent. It’s a broken system.”

When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh get wind of that comment, they could become as emboldened about fighting the owners as they were at All-Star weekend in Dallas in 2010. At that time, 10 All-Stars – including James and Wade – attended a bargaining session and were incensed that an NBA team executive had made derisive comments about them in telling CBSSports.com that owners had the upper hand in the negotiations.

“If they don’t like the new max contracts, LeBron can play football, where he will make less than the new max,” the team executive said at the time.“Wade can be a fashion model or whatever. They won’t make squat and no one will remember who they are in a few years.”

In decrying the collectively bargained contracts Miami’s Big Three signed, Silver was taking aim at the team – and the three players – who were most responsible for the NBA’s astronomical increases in TV ratings and worldwide fan interest that is culminating with the Finals that tipped off Tuesday night.

The countdown to a real and important deadline to keep that momentum going is very much under way.
Posted on: May 30, 2011 7:01 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 7:04 pm
 

30 days to the lockout: momentum, but no progress

MIAMI – Driven by record TV ratings in the conference finals and worldwide interest in the Miami Heat’s quest for a championship, the NBA will embark Tuesday on a heavily anticipated NBA Finals. It should be good, and it better be. This could be the last competitive NBA event for a long time.

The Heat vs. the Mavericks promises the kind of drama that can cement a sport in the nation’s consciousness for years. And yet the league continues to face the very real possibility of a work stoppage, with the negotiating clock at T-minus 30 days and counting.

Publicly, the signals have been decidedly mixed since All-Star weekend in Los Angeles about whether a lockout – presumed inevitable for at least a year – can be averted. The rhetoric was significantly softened at All-Star weekend in February, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver made the most optimistic comments to date at the draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J., earlier this month, saying the “throttle is down” on efforts to hammer out a deal before the current one expires June 30.

But those olive branches subsequently were snapped in two by National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, who has described the owners’ revised proposal – in which they offered the non-offer of phasing in their draconian changes over several years – as worse than the original one. Last week, the NBPA filed an unfair labor practices charge against the NBA with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging, among other things, that owners have not negotiated in good faith or provided suitable financial proof of their claims that the league is losing hundreds of millions a year under the current system.

So where are we? Thirty days out from what would be a debilitating and foolish display of stubbornness by both sides, sources familiar with the negotiating climate say it isn’t time to panic – but that time is coming soon.

“If there’s going to be a deal, I would say there are tipping points," one person familiar with the negotiations told CBSSports.com. "One tipping point is June 30. Once you get past June 30, people are inclined to sit around until the next tipping point, which is September.”

While the two sides remain far apart on the issues of a hard cap, reduced player salaries and an eventual elimination of guaranteed contracts, they at least are in agreement that they are farther along in negotiations than they were prior to the 1998-99 lockout, which resulted in a 50-game season. But one of the people familiar with the talks said there has been less progress at this point than there was in 2005, when noxious lockout fumes were in the air and catastrophe was averted with a surprise agreement during the NBA Finals. The owners, clearly, are no longer celebrating that victory, since they are trying to detonate most aspects of the deal that was ratified at that time.

Representatives for the owners and players met for a small bargaining session last week in New York, and a larger session is scheduled when the Finals shift to Dallas for the middle three games next week. Despite immense differences, the dialogue has been consistent for weeks – proof that neither side likes its chances if the dispute follows the NFL path to the courts.

“I think everybody is taking every opportunity right now to see if something can be done without a whole lot of distractions and rhetoric,” a person familiar with the negotiations said.

Developments in the NFL lockout have affected the NBA talks in significant ways. The NFL players’ initial victory in having their decertification validated in court, followed by the owners’ victory in temporarily preventing the lockout from being lifted, has only underscored the notion that commissioner David Stern and Hunter do not want this negotiation taken out of their hands and into the hands of politically appointed judges they don’t know. In some ways, both understand they’ll get a better deal through negotiation between now and July 1 than they’ll get in a courtroom after months of negative publicity and venom.

A ruling on the NBPA’s unfair labor practices charge isn’t expected for 6-8 weeks, sources say, which means the owners may have to decide to impose a lockout without knowing the outcome of the ruling. But the NLRB charge, sources say, has more to do with leverage than outcome. By putting their complaints in writing, the players have put the onus on both sides to hold good-faith negotiations and exchange legitimate proposals until the current deal expires.

“It puts the onus on both sides not to stall,” said another person familiar with the bargaining talks.

Of more importance is a ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on the validity of the NFL lockout. Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard June 3, with a ruling possible before the NBA lockout begins. If the appeals court upholds the portion of U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling that proclaimed the NFL lockout of a decertified union illegal, leverage in the NBA negotiations would swing significantly toward the players. At that point, the proverbial throttle would be pushed even harder toward a negotiated deal; why would NBA owners want to follow the same futile path through the courts that foiled their NFL counterparts?

A ruling in favor of the owners in the Eighth Circuit would shift the leverage to the NBA owners, and raise the chances of a lockout to a near certainty.

But while there is no disputing the communication and momentum, there are a few problems with comparing the NBA’s current situation to the NFL’s – or even the NBA’s in 1998 and 2005. As for the NFL comparison, legal experts believe the NBA owners would have a better case in the courts because they are claiming to be losing millions under the current system – and have provided audited financial statements and tax returns to prove it. NFL owners don’t claim to be losing money; they just want to make more.

As for comparing this to the NBA’s ’98 or ’05 negotiations, the NBA is in a different place than it was then. In ’98, salaries were out of control and the game was about to embark on the uncertain journey of life without Michael Jordan. In ’05, owners were looking for tweaks to the ’99 agreement. Now, they are looking to permanently and dramatically alter the landscape of the sport.

Which they most certainly will do with a prolonged lockout. They will forfeit the lofty place in the sports world that the NBA finally has attained after the golden era of Magic and Bird and the golden goose that was Jordan. The Finals begin in about 24 hours, but it’s T-minus 30 days and counting to the showdown that matters a lot more.
Posted on: May 26, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 9:33 pm
 

Rockets in final stages; McHale in W's mix?

The Houston Rockets are in the final stages of deciding on a head coach, with all three candidates having received two interviews for the job of replacing Rick Adelman.

“The next step is to make a decision,” a person with knowledge of the process told CBSSports.com Thursday.

Former Timberwolves coach and general manager Kevin McHale met with owner Leslie Alexander Wednesday in Miami, where McHale was broadcasting the Eastern Conference finals for TNT. Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank and Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey also have been interviewed twice.

UPDATE: A second person familiar with the process told CBSSports.com Thursday night that the Rockets are expected to extend a formal offer to their top choice as early as Friday.

Sources have been told that Frank has been losing ground in the three-man race, but that no clear favorite has emerged. The Rockets have not extended an offer or engaged in contract negotiations with any of the candidates, sources said.

While McHale’s candidacy has been bolstered by a strong recommendation from former Celtics teammate and current Boston president Danny Ainge, sources said Casey is on firm ground by virtue of the fact that he is the only candidate still coaching in the playoffs. Another person with direct knowledge of the interview process said all three candidates have presented compelling visions for the team, but not all aspects of the candidates’ strategies are on the same page with Houston management.

Meanwhile, Warriors management – bolstered by the addition of Hall of Fame consultant Jerry West – remains focused on a list of five remaining candidates the team has spoken with about its head coaching vacancy: Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Chuck Person; Hornets assistant Michael Malone; ABC/ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson; and Frank. The team also had spoken with former Cavs coach Mike Brown, who was hired Wednesday to replace Phil Jackson as coach of the Lakers.

A person familiar with the Golden State search said “one or two” other candidates could emerge for the Golden State job as a result of “musical chairs” with other jobs. One example of that could be Shaw, who may not want to remain with the Lakers after being passed over for the head coaching vacancy he had long hoped to fill once Jackson finally retired.

Another could be McHale, whose candidacy is expected to be strengthened by owner Joe Lacob’s connection to the Celtics. As a former member of the Celtics’ ownership group, Lacob is open to advice from Ainge and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, who are solidly backing McHale for a head coaching position. Sources in the coaching industry expect McHale to emerge as a candidate in Golden State depending on how his bid for the Houston job turns out.

UPDATE: A person with knowledge of the Warriors' search said Thursday that McHale had an "informal discussion" with team officials about the job.

UPDATE: In other NBA front office news, the Raptors are assembling a list of candidates to work alongside assistant general manager Marc Eversley under team president Bryan Colangelo. Although Maurizio Gherardini's contract expires June 30 and he may pursue other opportunities, Colangelo is chiefly concerned with filling the hole in the front office left by Masai Ujiri's departure for Denver. A person with knowledge of the Raptors' search said Colangelo is seeking a "high-level basketball person" to fill that role in what is expected to be an ambitious reorganization of the Toronto front office after the draft.
Posted on: May 23, 2011 5:57 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 10:57 am
 

Buffoonery at its best in Portland

The way things are going in the circus that is the NBA these days, with the tents and elephants and freak show setting up shop in Portland once again, there’s never been a better time to resurrect this memorable quote from Tayshaun Prince.

You know what they call this? They call this buffoonery.

Except this goes way beyond comedy – beyond even the wackiness Prince experienced in Detroit this season. The firing of Rich Cho as the Trail Blazers’ general manager Monday, and the search for the team’s third GM in less than a year, means the Blazers are no longer simply a joke. They are a league-wide embarrassment, a proverbial Petri dish for the experimental breeding of ego, incompetence, and the kind of empty-suit entitlement that rears its ugly head when rich guys think money and malice trump class.

On July 19, 2010, when Portland hired Cho to replace Kevin Pritchard – who was fired, for reasons that remain a mystery, hours before the previous month’s draft – team president Larry Miller issued the following statement: “Rich is the perfect fit for our organization.”

Whoops!

On Monday, a month before the next draft, the Trail Blazers announced they’ve “parted ways” with Cho. The first line of Miller’s statement explaining that bombshell went like this: “The fit between Rich and our team simply wasn't right.”

Can I get a whoops, whoops?

Of course it wasn’t right, because Cho was an independent thinker who wanted what any GM in the NBA should have as long as his business card bears that title: autonomy. The Blazers do not believe in autonomy, unless your name is Paul Allen or you are employed by Allen’s Seattle-based Vulcan Inc. The “Vulcanites,” as NBA front office insiders call them, ran Pritchard and assistant GM Tom Penn out of Portland and now someone has run out their replacement. Cho probably doesn’t feel this way now, but he’s better off. Or at least that’s what his colleagues in the GM profession hope.

“Rich is such a nice guy, such a good, gentle guy, and this could destroy him,” one of Cho’s colleagues said Monday. “He may never get another job as a GM because people will say, ‘How weird is it that you got fired after only 10 months on the job?’ But they don’t care about that stuff. They don’t care how they treat people.”

The person in the GM’s seat – now, it’s Chad Buchanan, who will hold the interim title until, or rather if, Portland is able to persuade some other poor soul to take the job – is never the one calling the shots there. Ultimately, that is Allen, who gets his advice from two key Vulcanites who’ve lurked behind the scenes in the organization for years: Steve “Hat Man” Gordon and Bert Kolde, a longtime friend of Allen’s who is listed in the team’s front office directory as director of the board.

“He’s the de facto GM,” said a person familiar with the Blazers’ hierarchy. “He’s the guy always trying to make calls and make decisions.”

Echoing the tasteless, underhanded way the Blazers fired Penn and Pritchard, NBA front office sources told CBSSports.com Monday that word began circulating at the scouting combine last week in Chicago that Portland already was looking for Cho’s replacement. Good luck to Allen, Miller, Hat Man, Kolde, the dancing bears and clowns on a unicycle in their quest to find a better person for the job than the three aforementioned executives, who were all capable – not to mention deserving of the freedom to make their own basketball decisions.

Was the mild-mannered Cho, after working under Sam Presti in Oklahoma City, prepared for this kind of hot seat? Was he as capable and accomplished as his predecessor, Pritchard? Of course not; but that’s the organization’s fault for firing Pritchard in the first place. And it was their responsibility to hire the right person, and to give that person a chance to grow into the job. The Vulcanites didn’t like Pritchard’s talkative, cocksure ways, so they hired the quietest person in any room; they overcompensated. Next, they should sew themselves a puppet and put it on the payroll, or go to the pet store and buy a parakeet. Hat Man will have him chirping, “Yes, sir, Mr. Allen,” in no time.

What the Blazers want above all else is a weak-minded yes man – not the kind of team-first, independent thinker that Cho proved himself to be when a report surfaced in the Oregonian last week that he wanted to suspend star Brandon Roy over his complaints about playing time after Game 2 of the first-round series against Dallas. This is the kind of authority a GM has to have if he’s going to shape the organization according to his vision. It is the kind of moment when, if an executive is undercut by ownership, it becomes apparent to everyone how much juice he has.

None.

All NBA executives face pressure from above. It’s part of the job. It’s the first thing they think of when they wake up and the last thought that crawls through their weary brains when they go to sleep: How do I keep my owner happy? Owners from coast to coast meddle in coach hirings and firings, weigh in on personnel decisions they know nothing about, and generally exert the influence that goes along with the flourish with which they sign the checks.

But Portland? This is ownership run wild. This is an organization that deserves to have no one – and I mean no one – even agree to interview for the job that was unfathomably vacated for the second time in less than a year.

At least the Blazers didn’t wait until draft night to drop the hammer on Cho, who made no discernable mistakes since taking over for Pritchard – and, hell, didn’t even have time to make any. Unless you consider getting Gerald Wallace from the Bobcats and losing a first-round playoff series to the Mavericks – still in the running for the NBA title – with his star player hobbling around on one leg a mistake.

And so the Blazers are right back where they were less than a year ago, when they fired Pritchard for no good reason and were firm in their belief that money and the allure of working for an owner with limitless pockets would trump any concerns candidates might have about working in the theater of the absurd.

Here’s hoping that this buffoonery hurts the Blazers more than Cho. Here’s hoping that their hunt for the next victim turns up much the same as the cache of credibility they have left.

Empty.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 9:36 pm
 

Brown finds Warriors job 'intriguing'

CHICAGO – Mike Brown finds the Warriors head coaching job “intriguing,” according to a person who said Wednesday the former Cavaliers coach has had conversations with Golden State officials about the opening.

Brown, who was fired after last season despite averaging 54 wins over five seasons in Cleveland, has yet to formally interview with Warriors owner Joe Lacob, sources said. Also in the mix to replace Keith Smart as Warriors coach are Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Chuck Person, Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, and Hornets assistant Michael Malone, according to sources. The search is expected to gain momentum in the coming days.

Frank also is one of three finalists for the Rockets’ head coaching position, along with Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and former Timberwolves coach and GM Kevin McHale. All three are having second interviews this week, sources said, the Rockets officials are in the evaluation process. Two high-level coaching sources said Casey appears to be the favorite for the Houston job.

While Brown would bring playoff experience and a defensive foundation to a Warriors team that needs both, Malone – Brown’s former assistant in Cleveland – is a creative and especially intriguing candidate. Like reigning coach of the year Tom Thibodeau, Malone, 39, was mentored by former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy and is known as a defensive guru. He transitioned to coaching the offense in Cleveland after John Kuester left the Cavs for the head job in Detroit.

Malone, the son of Magic assistant and longtime NBA coach Brendan Malone, has coached in the playoffs seven times, including two appearances in the conference finals and one in the NBA Finals. He was hired last year as Monty Williams’ lead assistant in New Orleans.
Posted on: May 8, 2011 6:38 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 6:54 pm
 

Lakers' run ends in disgrace

What a disgrace. 

The career of the most decorated, accomplished coach in NBA history … the relentless pursuit of a sixth title by Kobe Bryant, the greatest champion in the sport since Michael Jordan … any shred of dignity the Lakers might’ve left Dallas with Sunday after an embarrassing sweep … all of it crumbled under the weight of a colossal humiliation and dishonor put forth by the two-time defending champions. 

Losing is one thing. Getting swept is another. Getting sent home in an utterly uncompetitive blowout is even worse. But nothing is more disgusting than champions acting like punks. Nothing is more embarrassing than a team that cannot lose with dignity. 

The revolting episode that was most likely Phil Jackson’s final game as a coach will have far-reaching implications. This 122-86 debacle, and the deplorable behavior that went along with it, is the kind of loss whose aftershocks last for months, if not years. 

We already knew this would be a very different Lakers team next season, even if they’d won a third straight title. We already knew there would be a new coach. And this is the NBA; there are usually some new players. 

But this sudden, thorough, and inexplicable descent into dysfunction and depravity will not go unpunished. 

Lamar Odom, and particularly Andrew Bynum, will never be able to repay Jackson for shaming him this way. Bynum, a positive force during much of the series, doesn’t deserve to wear a Lakers uniform again after his unconscionable cheap shot to a defenseless, airborne J.J. Barea in the fourth quarter of a 30-point humiliation. There’s no place for that regardless of the victim, but Bynum violated the No. 1 rule of the schoolyard (where he belongs) and the NBA: Pick on someone your own size. Only punks and losers take aim at those half their size. 

The fact that Bynum needed Ron Artest – involved in one of the most notorious behavioral incidents in NBA history – to escort him past the Mavericks’ bench and toward the locker room told you everything you needed to know. At least Artest’s gesture proved that that Lakers’ team bond hadn’t completely eroded. In a sick way, Artest sticking up for a teammate who’d done something so cowardly was the only evidence that there was anything at all left of these Lakers as currently constructed. 

Championship caliber teams sometimes win in the playoffs, and sometimes they lose. Sometimes they lose like the ’91 Pistons, who walked out before time expired in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Bulls. Sometimes, they lose like the Spurs, who have never sacrificed an ounce of their professionalism for some twisted, macho moment that lasts but a second but stains your reputation forever. 

The Lakers, at the end for Jackson and near the end for Bryant, have managed to put themselves in the company of disgraced champions – those who don’t engender or deserve the respect of the generations. Big changes for the Lakers are now not only likely and expected, but also necessary, even mandatory. Say good-bye to Hollywood, say good-bye to the babies who couldn’t lose like champions. Shame on them, and good luck to the professionals they will leave behind to try to resurrect the Lakers’ proud history. 

Whatever uniform he is wearing in October, or whenever the NBA resumes, Bynum will be watching from his hotel room at a Four Seasons somewhere because he’ll most certainly be suspended. His actions will be suspended in time, serving as a lesson for every one of his contemporaries who play this game. 

We can only hope the Celtics and Heat were watching this. One of them will lose that series, and whoever it is will have an obligation to lift basketball out of the gutter the Lakers abandoned it in on Sunday.
Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:17 pm
 

Carlisle: Dirk is MVP

NEW YORK – Rick Carlisle was in a giving mood Wednesday night after the Mavericks’ sixth straight victory, awarding the MVP trophy to Dirk Nowitzki and naming Tyson Chandler to the Western Conference All-Star roster. 

The Mavs’ coach, of course, doesn’t have the power to do either – aside from his vote for All-Star reserves, which will be announced Thursday night. But after Nowitzki scored a game-high 29 points in only 32 minutes – on efficient 10-for-16 shooting – you can forgive Carlisle for being a little giddy about recent developments for a team that was sucking wind only a week ago. 

“I sense that he’s building each game on the last and that we’re headed the right direction with this thing,” Carlisle said after the Mavs beat the Knicks 113-97. “And talk about MVP candidates, if you look at what happened to us when he was out, if you look at his plus-minus, I think he’s the number one plus-minus guy in the the entire league. Based on that, he should be the MVP. That means he’s more valuable to our team than any other star is to theirs. And so his presence on the floor and his healthy presence is huge for us.” 

No argument here. That’s why I put Dirk on my Western Conference reserves. But MVP? Sure, the Mavs were 2-7 while Nowitzki was out with a knee injury that only now is “close to 100 percent,” according to Dirk himself. And as for the plus-minus reference, Nowitzki actually is ninth in the NBA at plus-310. He’s first on the Mavs, though – and perhaps leading the league in the Mavs’ interpretation of plus-minus, which can be adjusted based on what specific factors you emphasize. 

Hey, Dirk is good, and that’s good enough for me. 

"Dirk’s a unique guy,” Carlisle said. “There’s nobody who’s worked on developing his game more than he has in the history of this league. I put him up against (Larry) Bird and all these guys who have the great work ethics and reputations as hard workers. There’s a reason the ball goes in the basket. That’s because he’s great and he’s put in the time and the hours.” 

When the conversation turned to Chandler, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds and held Amar’e Stoudemire scoreless in the second half, Carlisle squeezed in one last bit of lobbying before All-Star reserves are announced. 

“Tyson’s an All-Star,” Carlisle said. “I don’t know that he’ll get voted, but he’s an All-Star. And there’s probably three or four other guys in the same boat. He’s truly deserving, has had a great impact on our team, and it may surprise people. He may have a legitimate shot, and he should, because of the effect he’s had on our group, particularly at the defensive end. And what we’re all seeing now is, he’s doing some great things offensively as well. He’s a big part of what we’re doing and I can’t stress that or repeat it enough.” 

Obviously not. But given that only a few weeks ago the Mavs were mired in a six-game losing streak (and seven of eight), Carlisle deserves to blow off a little steam. The next hurdle comes Friday night in Boston against the Celtics, whom the Mavs beat by two points back in November – without Boston having Shaquille O’Neal or Kendrick Perkins.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com