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Keep Dallas Observer Free
4

Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss?

Rick Carlisle can be the same. Long as he's different.

Us media dorks get our first chance to meet ‘n greet new Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle this afternoon down at American Airlines Center. Honestly, I’d have rather landed the entertaining and up-tempo Mike D’Antoni or persuaded general manager Donnie Nelson give it a go.

But of the available choices, Carlisle seems a good, safe fit.

Though he is extremely similar to Avery Johnson – micro-manager with a commitment to defense and a penchant for calling plays in half-court offensive sets – I’m going in with an open mind. (Kinda in the same way that a lot of my girlfriends had the same physical characteristics. It’s the details that make the difference.)

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To me, Carlisle will be judged on one thing next season: Jason Kidd’s performance. Unlike stubborn Avery, he has to let loose the reins with his point guard and allow freedom for the future Hall of Famer’s creativity to flourish. It’s a delicate balance, because Carlisle’s teams in Indiana and Detroit were basically walk-it-up, call-a-play offenses.

He’ll have to adapt. So far, so good. After signing a four-year, $16 million deal over the weekend, Carlisle has already met with Dirk Nowitzki and has a dinner planned with Josh Howard.

Most of the feedback I'm getting is positive. Some luke-warm. And others are already preparing for the worst.

As for Carlisle’s predecessor, he’ll appear on TNT’s studio set tonight. And, oh yeah, if you have $4.4 million laying around and you don’t mind your great grandma’s furniture, you can buy Avery’s old downtown digs, Suite 1402 in the Ritz-Carlton. -- Richie Whitt

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