- Rick Carlisle has resigned as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks after 13 seasons.
- The move comes one day after the departure of president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson.
- There have been reports of friction between Carlisle and 22 year old superstar Luka Doncic.
Many of the details aren’t quite clear but what is without dispute is that the Dallas Mavericks are in serious housecleaning mode. One day after the departure of president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson comes the resignation of Rick Carlisle as head coach after 13 seasons at the helm. Carlisle had been the third longest serving NBA head coach at the time of his resignation behind only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and leaves with a 555-478 record with the Mavs.
There are those who have suggested the move is long overdue. The Mavericks won the NBA Championship in 2011 but have not made it out of the first round of the playoffs since then. The more pressing reason behind Carlisle’s departure could be his difficult relationship with 22 year old superstar Luka Doncic. Although the departure of Carlisle is being reported as a ‘resignation’ the timing–a day after the apparent firing of Donnie Nelson–brings into question the possibility that the coach was in actuality pink slipped but allowed the existing narrative in order to save face. Carlisle’s statement almost sounds like he’s ‘protesting too much’ about his autonomy in making the decision:
“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. This was solely my decision. My family and I have had an amazing 13-year experience working with great people in a great city.”
The ouster of Donnie Nelson is also long overdue but there hasn’t been much clarity on the timing and the context of the decision. Although some reports indicate the decision for Nelson to leave was ‘mutual’ the overall tenor of the situation makes it evident he was fired. The local media in Dallas isn’t happy with the situation, bemoaning the loss of stability. Carlisle’s relationship with Doncic has been reported as the primary issue leading to his departure–he notably omitted Donic from the long list of players and staff that he thanked–but other reports indicate that Doncic isn’t happy to see Nelson go even if that is the case.
The Dallas media is of the opinion that Carlisle did leave of his own volition–perhaps seeing the ‘writing on the wall’ and potentially angling for a job in Milwaukee which could come vacant this summer as Mike Budenholzer is apparently on the ‘hot seat’. The Metroplex media is also disputing the narrative that there is a ‘house cleaning’ afoot. At this point, it’s difficult to assess the situation completely though it definitely resembles a ‘house cleaning’ intended to make Doncic happy before he signs a supermax extension.
It’s been a tough offseason so far for NBA coaches. With Van Gundy and Brooks fired earlier this week and Carlisle’s resignation there are now seven head coaching vacancies in the NBA–Dallas, Washington, New Orleans, Boston, Indiana, Orlando and Portland. Don’t expect Dallas to hire a new coach anytime soon as they’re first looking to fill the president of basketball operations vacancy.