Pregame buzz: Rick Carlisle to free agency?

DALLAS -- With the prospect of the Mavericks playing their final game of the 2011-12 season, coach Rick Carlisle is coming to the end of his four-year contract.

It figured to be a slam dunk that Carlisle would sign an extension after last season's championship, much like the five-year extension that owner Mark Cuban granted to Avery Johnson after leading the franchise to its first NBA Finals appearance in 2006.

The extension has never come and outside of president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, who has continually said that Carlisle isn't going anywhere, just bringing up the concept of a new deal has been considered taboo.

Carlisle has declined to talk about it all season. Same with Cuban. And that continued Saturday evening prior to the do-or-die Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"I don’t talk about free-agent coaches or otherwise," Cuban said while pounding away on his step machine. "Been that way for 11 or 12 years."

The Miami Heat awarded Erik Spoelstra with a new deal early this season.

So what would have been the harm of locking up Carlisle already? Owners couldn't negotiate, let alone communicate, with players during the lockout, but there was no gag order in place keeping ownership from negotiating with coaches.

"Want to have a long discussion about business?" Cuban said. "It’s my approach to business. It's worked out really, really well for me and I just want to be consistent."