DALLAS -- Coach Rick Carlisle acknowledges that the Mavericks are in rebuilding mode, with a caveat.
That doesn’t mean lottery pingpong balls are dancing in his head this holiday season.
“We’re rebuilding a championship team, yes,” Carlisle said after Monday's practice and film session, fresh off his team getting blown out in San Antonio to lose for the sixth time in seven games. “The statement is we’re rebuilding a championship team.
“We’re not a championship team at the moment. We know that. But I like the roster, and we’re going to work our ass off to become a better basketball team.”
The Mavs will wake up Christmas morning with a losing record for the first time during Mark Cuban’s ownership tenure. They are 12-16, which puts them 12th in the Western Conference standings, 2 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot.
Time to change the standards and expectations for this team?
“I think we’ve already done that,” Carlisle said with a self-effacing laugh. “But I’m going to be steadfast in my belief in these guys and the fact that we can and will get better.”
That belief is that the Mavs as currently constructed are a playoff-caliber team, especially with Dirk Nowitzki easing his way back into the mix.
The Mavs have made the playoffs 12 consecutive years. Carlisle isn’t close to being ready to see that streak end. He plans on being in the playoffs again in April.
“That’s certainly the goal,” Carlisle said. “But it’s a process working toward that. And we’ve got to keep focused on the day-to-day aspects of becoming better and working at being better. And when we do those things and show improvement, we’ll inch toward that goal.
“But it’s work. It’s work, and I’m not here to try to convince or fool anybody into thinking it’s not.”
The reality right now is that the Mavs’ recent performances are a long way from respectability, much less playoff caliber.
“The way we’re playing, I think, would be viewed as we’re not very good,” Carlisle said in an understatement. “So we’ve got to work to change that.”