NEW YORK — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn’t think coach Rick Carlisle’s threat to shake up the team’s roster should be taken literally.
“Oh, it’s 100 percent about pressing buttons,” Cuban told ESPN.com before Wednesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. “The one thing you know about us, if we’re actually going to make a trade, nobody knows about it. And they were buttons that needed to be pressed, so I agree wholeheartedly with him.”
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Carlisle ripped the Dallas rotation players after Tuesday’s 103-99 loss to the Toronto Raptors, which was only close because of a late run by an all-bench unit, saying the Mavs “got our ass kicked” in a first half that he called embarrassing.
“Look, if it’s going to be like that, these guys aren’t going to be Mavericks very long,” Carlisle said, repeating a threat he made behind closed doors in the locker room. “I can promise you that.”
Carlisle admitted following the Mavs’ 119-118 overtime win in Brooklyn that his threat the previous night was simply an emotional reaction to frustration with his team.
“I fly off half-cocked about every other day, so you can’t pay much attention to what I say,” Carlisle said. “The truth is I love this team and I really care about these guys. I want them to want it as much as I want it for them, and sometimes, that manifests in some unusual ways, but I’m never going to stop caring.”
Cuban likes the composition of Dallas’ roster and said he doesn’t believe the team needs to make any major deals. However, he acknowledged that inconsistent effort and energy have been an issue for the Mavs, who are 16-13 after Wednesday’s win, tied for fourth in the Western Conference.
Cuban said the Mavs, who have several key players shooting well below their career percentages, too frequently allow their shooting to affect their effort.
As far as Cuban is concerned, Carlisle’s message that lapses of effort are unacceptable was on point.
“He’s been doing this a long time,” Cuban said. “He feels the pulse of the team. We’re a team that in order to be a really good team, we have to play really hard. And I think, really, the message more than anything else is that it’s not that we don’t play hard, it’s that we have lapses in our effort. A shot doesn’t go in, we think we were fouled or should have gotten a call, we react to that and don’t get back on defense. I think he was right. It’s just these little lapses that hurt us.
“The good news is I think everything is fixable. It’s not like we have guys who are dogs and won’t work hard. These are guys who want to play hard, who want to win, who want to contribute. It’s just that guys have been frustrated. … It’s funny, the games that our shots fall early, you never see us complaining about effort. It’s just the way it is right now. We’ll turn it around.”