DALLAS – With three new players on his roster thanks to last week’s blockbuster trade, Rick Carlisle hasn’t exactly taken the new players through a full-fledged training camp. But it’s been the closest thing to it.
“It’s been a three-day, I guess, tutorial on how we’re doing things,” the Dallas Mavericks’ coach said after Tuesday’s practice. “They’ve been great.
“They’re all very smart, high basketball IQ guys. They picked up everything offensively and defensively.”
All three new players – Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke – will be in uniform on Wednesday night at 7:30 when the Mavs (24-28) host the Charlotte Hornets (26-26) at American Airlines Center.
The Mavs acquired Kristaps Porzingis, Hardaway, Lee and Burke last Thursday in a trade with New York that sent Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two first-round draft picks to the Knicks. Dallas hasn’t played a game since winning at Cleveland on Saturday, and the long break in between that contest and the matchup with the Hornets was ideal towards getting the new players acclimated to the Mavs’ way of things.
“We’re fortunate to have a break like this immediately after a major trade,” Carlisle said. “All three of these guys from New York are professionals, they’re ready to play and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.
“I can’t tell you that they’re all going to play (against the Hornets), or the number of minutes, or any of that kind of stuff, but I know they’ll be ready. It’s just time to get out there and play a game.”
New players coming into a new situation past the midway point of the season brings with them a new set of challenges. But forward Harrison Barnes noted that just having experience playing together will help overcome some of the rough patches.
“We can do as much practice as we want. . .but having that opportunity to be on the court and really compete together, just having them understand kind of what we’ve been doing here and improve on it, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Barnes said. “And I think the biggest thing is, they’re all great guys.
“I think they came in, they fit with our locker room, so that’s been the easiest part.”
Barnes stopped short of calling the new influx of players something ‘exciting’ the Mavs can cling to as they continue to fight for one of the eight playoff positions in the Western Conference.
“It’s definitely a new challenge,” Barnes said. “I don’t know if necessary ‘exciting’ is the word, but it’s definitely something new that we’re all going to have to adjust to.
“But I like I said, they’re great guys from that perspective, and obviously skilled players. So it should be pretty seamless.”
For Carlisle, this is definitely an exciting time as he gets a chance to incorporate new players into his system. A system that, as of now, have the Mavs just three games behind the Los Angeles Clippers in the loss column for the eighth and final playoff spot out West.
“I think all of this is fun,” Carlisle said. “This is part of the whole challenge of all this. I’ve been involved with major trades before – where three or four new guys come in.
“There’s a lot to teach in a short period of time. Sometimes it can slightly change your philosophy and maybe you’ll stop doing some things that you were doing before and do a couple of new things based on personnel. But it’s always exciting when you’ve got new personalities, and guys are excited to be here, so we’re excited, too.”
By all account, Barnes explained that Hardaway, Lee and Burke all appeared to have picked up Carlisle’s offensive and defensive schemes and will be ready to hit the ground running on Wednesday.
“We’ve got some new guys we’re going to be integrating into the team tomorrow, so the biggest thing for us is call ‘energy’ and ‘effort,’ ” Barnes said. “As long as we do that I think we’ve got enough skilled guys out there to make it work.”