Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle knows something about dealing with a roster full of different players. The five new free agents -- Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones -- were introduced Monday at American Airlines Center.
And of the 15 players on the roster, eight of them are new.
That's what Carlisle faced his second season while coaching the Detroit Pistons during the 2002-03 season. Carlisle said he had to figure out how to make eight new players jell and work together that season. They won 50 games and lost in the Conference Finals in four games to the New Jersey Nets.
"That was a different time and a different conference and a lot of different stuff," Carlisle said. "I think the point is that it’s possible to take a lot of new guys and get them together and play well, and that’s what we’re going to do."
Carlisle said the key to doing that as quickly as possible is getting as full an understanding as you can about the new players. Carlisle knows some of their games just from playing against them. But he said watching film will be important in knowing how each can help the club in a variety of situations.
"You have to watch film to try to get the best feel you can for what they can do," Carlisle said. "You evaluate how they can fit in with your present personnel and then just go forward. Communication is big. We’ve got to talk to these guys. We’ve got to listen and get them comfortable with what we’re doing offensively.
"Then defensively, our system is not vastly different from most teams in the NBA. Most of these guys know the terminology. It’s going to start at the defensive end and, offensively, that’s where you get into the nuance stuff. You've got to spend the time and study it and talk to them."
Of course it also makes the preseason even more important. Carlisle will begin the integration right away with the hopes of finding out exactly what he's got and how each player can help the club.