Monday, December 12, 2011
Rick Carlisle excited about Mavs' trio
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- After acquiring Vince Carter and Lamar Odom in a whirlwind 24 hours, coach Rick Carlisle was excited about what the Dallas Mavericks had done off the court.
"We're going to be a very good team. We're going to be a dangerous team and our goal is to mold into, once again, a championship team," Carlisle said Sunday. "Those things take some time, but I'm excited about this group and I don't think we're done yet."
The Mavericks have one remaining roster spot open, barring a trade or some other transaction. But the two spots that will be filled shortly once Carter and Odom arrive quickly refreshed what appeared to be a weakened champion with the departure of Tyson Chandler and others.
The Odom deal, in particular, is stunning. It arose from the ashes of the smoldering Chris Paul trade debacle and was consummated in a matter of hours, Carlisle said after Sunday's morning practice.
The Mavs now boast a forward position of 6-foot-7 Shawn Marion, 6-10 Odom and 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki.
Carlisle is a big fan.
"Right now, for me, having Odom, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, we may have the best forward trio in this league right now. And that's exciting," Carlisle said. "Lamar Odom is a guy we have great respect for as a person and as an all-around player in this league. We feel he's going to add so many different dimensions for us -- length, playmaking, scoring, experience, championship experience."
Odom is a rare talent for his size, an excellent ballhandler who can initiate offense. He is a terrific passer -- "one of the best passing big men this league has ever seen," Dirk Nowitzki said -- averaging 4.0 assists over his 12-year career and he shot the 3-ball the best of his career last season at 38.2 percent.
"He may handle the ball for us some," Carlisle said. "He's a very unique player. He's one of the few guys I've seen in this league that effectively has played point power forward. You don't see many guys that have that kind of ability and diverse skills. It's a terrific deal for us. We're looking forward to getting him in here."
Nowitzki said he was busy watching Harry Potter 2 when the trade went down. After checking his cell phone, he said it was clogged with messages.
"Excited," is how he described his first emotion. "I mean really to get Lamar Odom for a trade exception -- and I don't even know what that is -- so we turned nothing into a great player. I've always been a fan of his game because he's always been a great all-around player. He's very smooth, very fun to watch, so I think he's going to fit in great. He can play multiple positions, he can guard multiple positions, he's long, so I think he's going to fit in well."
How the trade came to be is amazing. The Lakers, it appeared, were on the verge of finally consummating a trade for Chris Paul that still would have them left with assets to make a run at Dwight Howard and threaten to put together a super-team for the next five years, at least. But, for a second time the deal died, this time late Saturday night after the Lakers pulled out.
Dallas swooped in and the Lakers dumped his favorable $8.9 million contract, with a team option for next season, to the team that swept them out of the playoffs last season in the semifinals.
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.