- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- Coach Rick Carlisle, who is among the many Mavericks who are entering free agency, received tepid support from superstar Dirk Nowitzki on the subject of the coach's potential return to Dallas.
Nowitzki praised Carlisle’s performance over the last four years but stopped well short of publicly lobbying for the coach to get a new contract.
“This team, this franchise obviously has a lot of decisions to make,” Nowitzki said. “That’s obvious. Rick had a great four years here obviously. He took us to the promised land with a team that probably nobody thought could do it. I think he found a good mix over the years of stressing defense a lot and giving (Jason) Kidd some movement, giving him some freedom on the offensive end. Sometimes he did a good job getting out of the way and just letting us play and if he saw things are not going that well, call some plays and kind of pull us back in.
“I thought over the four years, he tried to do a good job. We’ll have to wait and see what the decision is with him, but he did a great job and obviously led us to the promised land.”
As has been the case all season, Carlisle didn’t want to address the subject after the defending champions’ four-game playoff exit.
“I’m not talking about my situation,” Carlisle said. “Right now is not the time, so I’m going to pass on that. You know, I’ve had four great years here. Again, I can’t tell you guys or anybody how much gratitude I have for the opportunity Mark and Donnie have given me and the players have given me here and what we’ve experienced through all the things, the great things last year and some of the other ups and downs.
“This is a first-class franchise. … This team and this franchise is going to continue to be great as long as Mark owns it. I’m confident in that.”
Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has said several times that Carlisle “isn’t going anywhere.” However, owner Mark Cuban has declined to discuss the situation all season and stuck to that policy before Saturday’s Game 4.
"Want to have a long discussion about business?" Cuban said. "It’s my approach to business. It's worked out really, really well for me and I just want to be consistent."
The one exception Cuban made was giving Avery Johnson a five-year contract extension after the Mavs played in the 2006 Finals. Cuban fired Johnson two seasons later.