As the Dallas Mavericks smiled through Monday's Media Day and prepare to open a more serious four-day training camp at SMU on Tuesday, the club is trumpeting its depth as its strength. Of course, it can only work that way if the players, particularly those who might be asked to accept new roles or reduced minutes, buy in.
"It's going to be real competitive between our first and second group, and we're going to look at different combinations and different guys in different situations," third-year coach Rick Carlisle said. "And look, it's very possible we're going to have some guys coming off the bench that are not accustomed to doing that."
Carlisle wasn't smiling when he suggested that he'll have limited patience for players who place their personal interests ahead of team goals.
"Anybody that presents themselves with that kind of selfishness isn't deserving of being in a Maverick uniform. That's my feeling about it. I know it's Mark's feeling about it," Carlisle said. "This ain't going to be about role definition. It's going to be about role acceptance. We'll see the character of our team, the resourcefulness of our team. Both those things are huge, and that's what's going to define us as a special team as opposed to a good team."
The biggest question heading into camp is who will start at shooting guard? The question is more complicated because of the foot injury that will keep Roddy Beaubois out of action for likely all of the preseason and possibly into the regular season. The team has sent signals that they'd like to start Caron Butler at small forward instead of at shooting guard as he did last season, which would bump Shawn Marion to the bench, a role he's never played before and one that Jason Terry has embraced the last few seasons. Terry spent most of Monday talking up his plan to reclaim the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
"If you bring Shawn Marion off the bench we're really going to have the best bench in the league, if that's what it is," Terry said. "My focus right now is getting that second unit in tune, getting us in gear so when we come in the game there's no fall off. We're coming in to make an impact and to be effective and just cause havoc."
Regardless of who starts and who doesn't, the Mavs are loaded with players that are used to starting. While Terry accepted the change and thrived, other players tend to interpret a move to the bench as an indication that the franchise believes their game is in decline. In the Mavs' situation, it is about finding combinations that put players in the best spot for the team to succeed.
Dirk Nowitzki, entering his 13th season, said whatever moves are made, it is up to veteran players to accept them and move on.
"Looking at it, you can't have hurt feelings on a good team, we're beyond that," Nowitzki said. "If you want to win a championship, you can't be running around being mad all the time at the coach or at the situation. I think we're all in this together. Some nights coach has shown that his substitution patterns are different, I want to say. Some nights you might play a lot of minutes and the next night you might not see the court. That's just Rick and we all got to get used to it and I think we did last year."
*The Mavericks on Monday officially announced the signing of Dee Brown, Brian Cardinal and Adam Haluska, along with last week's signing of Steve Novak to non-guaranteed contracts. The training camp roster stands at 17 players.
The Mavs have 13 guaranteed contracts heading into training camp, leaving two roster spots open.
"It's extremely competitive. There's spots to be earned, but there's going to be a decision made based on preseason and training camp so I think we're all just trying to bring our best," said the 6-foot-10 Novak, who played the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and two seasons prior with Houston. "We know what we've got to do. None of us are rookie, first-year guys, we've all been through it before and know that you have to put your best foot forward and show them what they want to see."
* Beaubois participated in Media Day on Monday and, in a good sign, he was was wearing sneakers -- on both feet. Beaubois is out of the boot that was saddled to his left for several weeks as he's recovered from surgery to repair a broken bone. Carlisle said Beaubois has had no setbacks, but a timetable remains elusive. The hope is he will be ready to play in the season opener on Oct. 27.