Mavs Carlisle: 'I wouldn't trade Luka Doncic for anybody'
Mavs coach Carlisle: 'I wouldn't trade Luka Doncic for anybody'
DALLAS - Rick Carlisle is in as buoyant a mood as I've ever seen him. Maybe Monday's start of the NBA season will do that to a basketball lifer. Or maybe his bubbly interaction with us at Media Day is about the chance to accomplish something special with somebody special.
"I wouldn’t trade Luka Doncic for anybody,'' the Dallas Mavericks coach proclaimed. ... and the justified Slovenian Hype Train is off and chugging.
Seriously, Carlisle has a keen knowledge of the value of special players, having been a Larry Bird teammate and having coached the likes of Reggie Miller, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki. And it is with that background that the groundwork to start Dallas Mavericks training camp has been installed.
This is about a return to greatness ... thanks to a player (or maybe two of them) who possess it.
Carlisle, effervescent though he was on Monday, is not a man given to hyperbole, so again, this statement comes with a great amount of gravitas. Carlisle, who supervised guard Doncic to a tremendous first season in the NBA last year that led to the teen sensation earning NBA Rookie of the Year honors, did not hesitate putting Luka's name among the greats with whom he's been associated.
“He’s the point guard,'' said Carlisle, settling some of the debate about what exactly the "position-less'' Luka's role might be. "He’s unusual. He’s a very unique point guard. We haven’t seen a guy exactly like him ever in the NBA.”
The Mavs are counting on Doncic, 20, along with Kristaps Porzingis, who is set to make his Dallas debut this season after last February's blockbuster trade with the Knicks and a summer of rehab, to take the baton from the retired Dirk Nowitzki.
Carlisle raved about Doncic’s ability to do exactly that, to make his teammates better, comparing his impact to Bird, with whom Carlisle played on the Boston Celtics in the ’80s.
"He has,'' Rick said, "a savant-like ability.''
Doncic played in 72 games last season, averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, six assists and 1.1 steals over 32.2 minutes per game while shooting 42.7 percent from the floor, 32.7 percent from 3-point range and 71.3 percent from the free-throw line.
The Mavs won just 33 games last season and have missed the playoffs three years in a row. It is Luka's intention to change that. And all he has to to, really, is live up to Carlisle's evaluation.
That's some pressure, right?
“I’ve had pressure since I was 16,'' said Luka when asked about the Nowitzki-centric torch-passing. "I like pressure.”