DALLAS (AP) - Rick Carlisle is ready to let Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks run. And run.
And run some more.
”When you play with Jason Kidd, you have to open it up,” Carlisle said Wednesday. ”Our wing guys are going to have to get conditioned to really run. The thing Jason Kidd does better than probably any point guard in the league is push the ball ahead.”
Carlisle was hired over the weekend to replace Avery Johnson, who got the Mavericks to the NBA finals in 2006 and a franchise-record 67 wins in '07 but wore out his welcome with consecutive first-round playoff flops and problems with team owner Mark Cuban.
Johnson was fired two weeks ago Wednesday, the morning after Dallas was ousted by New Orleans. Carlisle quickly moved to the top of the candidate list compiled by Cuban and Donnie Nelson, the team's president of basketball operations, despite having no connection to the organization. He wound up being the only candidate interviewed.
”I think he embodies all the good things the Mavs are looking to accomplish - hard work, ingenuity, creativity,” Cuban said. ”We're really proud and excited to have him here.”
Carlisle emphasized his ready-to-run mentality in the opening statement at his news conference. He also stressed that while more fun, ”it's a lot of work, a lot of sweat.”
”If you're going to play at a faster tempo offensively, there's an unbelievable physical commitment,” Carlisle said. ”It's probably going to be one of the tougher training camps. The summer our guys have in terms of preparation and conditioning is going to be absolutely critical.”
Carlisle added that he plans to keep the defensive core established by predecessor Avery Johnson, prompting a whisper of ”That's cool” from Dirk Nowitzki, who was sitting with the media to hear what his new coach had to say.
”We've got to be passionate and vigilant about what Avery (started) here,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle said he was hoping to spend some time in Germany with Nowitzki this summer in hopes of adding ”a few things to make the game easier for him.” They've already talked plenty, with Nowitzki asking about Carlisle's long relationship as a former teammate and friend of Larry Bird.
Carlisle also was planning to have dinner with Josh Howard and may travel to North Carolina for more time with Howard and Jerry Stackhouse, whom Carlisle coached before in Detroit.
”This is not about me coming in here with my style,” Carlisle said. ”This is about fitting the style to the personnel.”
His track record demands respect: A career mark of 281-211, with a Coach of the Year award and consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference finals, once with Detroit then with Indiana the next season. He's made the playoffs in five of his six seasons, getting fired by the Pacers after his lone flameout in 2007. He spent this past season working for ESPN.
This will be his first time coaching the West. He arrives with the Mavericks getting older and the competition getting tougher. Dallas extended its streak of 50-win seasons and playoff berths to eight in a row, but both came down to the final weeks.
Nowitzki turns 30 next month and Kidd is 35, plus going into the final year of his contract. About half the roster spots are open, but the Mavericks already are over the salary cap, limiting the kind of moves they can make. Dallas also gave up its first-round pick in the Kidd trade