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Mavs’ Carlisle has right mindset of playoffs over draft

Rick Carlisle appears to be one of the few NBA coaches out there that has the full confidence from management, so it seems likely that, no matter if certain radio hosts accuse him of having “the personality of a knife,” he will be on the Mavericks’ sidelines for quite a while longer.

That means he has the freedom to help make sure his roster is primarily contained with players he trusts to play. So there won’t be a ton of young players wearing Dallas jerseys for the time being, as it’s clear Carlisle doesn’t put a lot of trust in them – see the playing time of Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo for that.

So it shouldn’t be that surprising that the Mavs’ coach has flat out said he’s not concerned with how the Mavs’ return to the playoffs will almost certainly cause them to be a non-factor in this year’s NBA Draft.

If the Mavs finish with one of the top 10 records in the league, they lose their first round pick to Oklahoma City as part of that infamous Lamar Odom trade that all parties are wanting to forget as soon as possible. And the dearth of good teams in the East makes that almost a given even if the Mavs finish with the eighth seed in the West.

Carlisle’s response, according to the Star-Telegram?

“Who cares? This draft ain’t that good. It’s more important to be playing this time of year and competing than worrying about the 20-something pick in the draft. That guy ain’t going to help us much next year, regardless.”

Rick, I love you even more.

Carlisle just blurted out what I have been saying for a while now. Everyone has been talking about how supposedly so much more loaded this upcoming draft is, especially compared to last year, which resulted in three of the top five picks failing to score even five points a game (yeah, yeah, beating a dead horse). How oh so convenient it is that this would be the year the Lakers would bottom out and be in position to find the next Kobe and, once again, why the Mavs would be more proud of a supposed first-round exit over getting some young gun guaranteed to shine alongside Dirk and single-handedly turn the Mavs back into championship contenders.

Why? Because the Mavs have a better chance of making the Finals with the eight seed than finding the next Dirk in this or any draft for the foreseeable future, and that’s just the truth.

I have people saying that nowadays, you’re not getting an impact player if you aren’t in the top three to seven picks. I’d argue not even those picks are a guarantee. Regardless of what the hype machine at ESPN says, this is still a draft loaded with freshmen out the wazoo. And that’s not a good thing.

Most players that have NBA caliber dominate in high school with almost no real competition. Whether it would be coming straight out after that or after just one year in college, that’s simply not enough of a playing resume to completely determine if someone truly has what it takes to make it at the highest level. Because it’s not just about what you have, it’s about having the intelligence and maturity to know how to use it to your full potential.

And the truth is that almost all of these freshmen come in thinking they’re going to dominate the NBA just like they dominated high school, thinking there will be no need to put in extra effort. And they find out too late that their toughest high school opponent wouldn’t be a 12th man in the NBA, unable to recover and turning into yet another basketball version of David Clyde.

Just ask Michael Beasley, who, after leaving Kansas State after one year, has been cut by one team and traded twice in six years and now wonders if he in fact made the right decision.

The days of getting Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing or even Tim Duncan are long gone. You’re far more likely to end up with a Michael Bennett or Greg Oden than a Kevin Durant.

Hence why there is very little turnover nowadays between the teams in the lottery and in the playoffs. The Hornets and Kings are once again looking at ping pong balls while an aging San Antonio roster is again looking at the top seed in the playoffs.

This is why new commissioner Adam Silver is highly considering changing to a two-year rule. I would personally prefer finding a way to turn the D-League into a true minor-league development system.

Either way, Carlisle has the right mindset for now. With a seemingly ageless Dirk playing alongside Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon, the Mavs are a playoff team and would have a top seed if they were in the East. They admittedly still need to find another Tyson Chandler-like presence in the paint to seriously be a title contender again.

But they’re more likely to find that through an off-season trade or signing after whatever happens to them in the postseason.

They’re not likely to find that in a class of 20-somethings most likely to be bust over boom.

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Mavericks May Be Looking at Fools Gold in Free Agency

I love Mark Cuban as an owner. I always have. I just hope he isn’t turning more and more to the Jerry Jones side – having to constantly prove he’s the smartest guy in the room.

That’s the feeling I got following draft night – well, along with wondering, like so many others, why the NBA has its asinine rule that picks can’t be traded on draft night until after they’re used, leaving us to wait until night’s end for ESPN to announce the moves we already knew about via Twitter.

At the end of the night, the Mavericks had turned the 13th pick into U of Miami guard Shane Larkin, who was technically Atlanta’s pick at 18. Sorry, looks like we won’t get to see Britny Greiner alongside Dirk Nowitzki.

Larkin is being touted as possibly a second coming of JJ Barea, someone who can overcome his lack of size with his ability to destroy you on the pick and roll, which is something the Mavs can definitely use in conjunction with Dirk. Dallas may have actually drafted someone who could truly see the floor for the first time in I can’t remember how long.

But we shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking this draft was getting about players. It was about freeing up cap space.

Because the guy the Mavs want wasn’t wearing a college uniform last year but a Lakers uniform. And that’s what worries me.

It was just a few hours ago that free agency started, and already Mavs fans can erase one pipe dream. For the first time ever, the Clippers actually made an effort to keep a free agent, and Chris Paul is expected to sign a five year deal on the 10th. Who knows when Donald Sterling got his brain transplant, but Billy Crystal sure is thrilled.

That has left the few true basketball fans drooling at landing uber-talented but ultra-immature Dwight Howard to Dallas. The guy who destroyed two teams and is still going to get the max four-year contract a free agent can get elsewhere.

Not that that’s the only move the Mavs are looking to make. With the Boston Celtics looking to flush away their whole team for a glorious next two decades of lottery picks, the Mavs have their sights on Rajon Rondo, one of the few point guards in this game who actually brings the ball up court thinking pass first. Sounds a lot like the guy who took the Mavs to that championship who will now wear a suit on the sidelines for Brooklyn.

Here’s an idea: Why not go after the point guard and let some other team wreck themselves on Howard?

Pair Rondo with an Al Jefferson, someone who can take the role of Tyson Chandler, and suddenly, bam! You’ve got the combination that actually proved successful just two years ago. And you didn’t throw away 100 million dollars on a guy who’s likely to get your coach fired by New Year’s.

Here’s a wild question: Who so far has beaten David Stern’s favorite team playing at its own game yet?

While so many try to still find a way around the looming luxury tax to stockpile their own superteam to topple the vaunted Miami Heat, it’s ironically the Mavs from 2011 who still stand at how to actually beat them: Build the team around one great player surounded by many other good ones and let depth wear down super talent.

And it almost worked in San Antono as well. Sorry, Tony Parker and Manu Giunobli are really good players but not superstars. And that collection around Tim Duncan was on its way to knocking off Lebron and Co. had Greg Popovich not gotten arrogant or stupid or both in game six.

It’s amazing how, even with history showing the other way has actually succeeded, NBA teams and fans still want to go the volatile “fantasy sports” way, taking talent and attitude over teamwork and chemistry.

The Mavs should be looking at rebuildng a team rather than splurging for the reason the Orlando Magic’s Wikipedia page has a section called “The Dwightmare Saga.”