As the draft and free agency loom, a question on the mind of a lot of athletes will most certainly be, ‘Why Dallas?’ In our new series we’re going to answer just that. Comments? Suggestions? Drop us a line below.
Mavs Trainer Casey Smith Thanks The Fans
Dallas Mavericks athletic trainer Casey Smith thanks the fans after the team's magnificent championship run in 2011.
Up to this point in the “Why Dallas?” series, we’ve covered both the advantages the Mavs’ organizational culture and the team’s head coach, Rick Carlisle, could provide to prospective draft choices and free agents.
But as with all teams in the NBA, organization attractiveness depends not just on the culture, and not just on the head coach, but also on the other men who sit on the bench during the games. Every head coach leans on his assistants and the rest of his staff throughout the season for countless reasons. Assistants have a hand in developing offensive and defensive strategies, scouting current and future opponents, and even tracking very specific stats during and after games — more than just minutes and fouls.
Carlisle has earned a reputation as one of the best head coaches in the NBA, and two members of his coaching tree, Dwane Casey and Terry Stotts, both led teams to the playoffs this year and finished in the top-10 in Coach of the Year voting. Both of Carlisle’s current top assistants, Monte Mathis and Kaleb Canales, are coaches held in high regard. Mathis engineers the defense and prepares players for games with thorough scouting reports, while Canales — one of the youngest active coaches with head coaching experience — heads up the offense.
But Casey Smith, the team’s head trainer, might be the Mavs’ secret weapon.
For several years, Dallas has been among the oldest teams in the league, but at the same time the Mavericks have for the most part managed to stay healthy through it all. There have certainly been injuries, but based on the number of minutes veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, and even Jason Kidd play or played during their time in Dallas, it’s difficult to argue against Smith’s ability. It’s no wonder, then, that he was Team USA’s athletic trainer for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, as well as the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
On that 2010 team, which won the gold medal, was Tyson Chandler. The big man spent just one season in Dallas, but played 74 games after suffering through multiple injury-plagued seasons in New Orleans and Charlotte during the years prior. Until the ’10-11 season, he’d only played more than 74 games in a season once since 2004-05. But Smith and the Mavs training team kept him healthy during the regular season and playoffs, and as we’d learn in June 2011, it’s a good thing Chandler stayed off the injured list. Dallas doesn’t win the title that season without Chandler, but there’s no guarantee Tyson could have remained healthy without Casey Smith.
Believe it or not, NBA training staffs mean a great deal. Smith himself hails from the Phoenix Suns program, which was for a long time considered one of the best in the league. Clearly, Smith brought some knowledge with him to Dallas, where the Mavericks have successfully extended the careers of veterans while also extending the prime of younger players. Monta Ellis drove to the lane more often than any other player in the league this season, and he didn’t miss a game. Yes, that says a lot about Monta’s own toughness, but it also speaks volumes about Smith and the rest of the staff.
For aging veterans and young players alike, a team’s injury history and current training staff are both definitely considered as part of the equation, as is the rest of the coaching staff underneath a team’s head boss. In both areas, Dallas is at or near the very top of the list. The Mavs’ pitches to potential free agents and their attractiveness to draft prospects can be so versatile; Donnie Nelson, Mark Cuban, and the rest of the Mavs brass can push whatever they want to whoever they want. At every level throughout the front office — and let’s not forget about the stuff that happens on the floor, either — Dallas is a quality organization.