Rick Carlisle earned his reputation as one of the game’s top coaches by bending flexing and adjusting all the way to a six-game championship take-down of the Miami Heat in 2011.
Recall 5-foot-10 point guard J.J. Barea as an NBA Finals starting shooting guard?

The Dallas Mavericks have since gone 77-72 and haven’t won another playoff game. And despite a roster that’s read like a well-worn Rolodex Carlisle has seemed only to enhance his image as an elite tactician and motivator. Carlisle’s agility will be put to the test again this season in guiding a team that again barely resembles the one that preceded it.

From the 2010-11 championship team only Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion remain. From the revamped squad insufficiently stocked to defend the title add only Brandan Wright and Vince Carter as keepers. And from last season add draft picks Jae Crowder and Bernard James. It’s doubtful any coach especially one that won a ring with the same franchise just three Junes ago has witnessed such roster upheaval in three consecutive offseasons and particularly so in these back-to-back summers.

“Back-to-back probably not” Carlisle admitted. “But look we’re living in a different time. We’re living in a time now where there’s going to be more one-year deals there’s going to be more turnover so everybody adjusts to the dynamics of the new CBA and I don’t know that that’s going to happen for another year or two at least. That said if you’re going to be a head coach in this league you’ve got to be very open-minded you’ve got to be open to change and adaptation. You always want continuity but you’re not always going to have it.”

The Mavs suffered the indignity of a lockout and the ratification of a game-changing collective bargaining agreement on the heels of their championship parade. On the fly owner Mark Cuban championed new roster-building strategies that entailed allowing key members of his title team to walk. Plan A to create cap space and lure max-dollar free agents to crowbar Nowitzki’s championship window hasn’t panned out and Dallas has instead scrambled the last two summers to produce competitive rosters.