Rick Carlisle is a wizard and genius of a coach, but his personality is something that has a track record over the course of his coaching career.
Seven minutes and thirty-two seconds.
This is the amount of minutes Nerlens Noel has logged over the past three games for the Dallas Mavericks including one game where he received a DNP-CD.
On the season, he is averaging just 16 minutes a game, his lowest since entering the NBA.
After turning down a big offer in restricted free agency over the summer, Noel came back on the one-year qualifying offer worth around $4 million where he will hit unrestricted free agency next summer.
So why isn’t Noel playing?
“Look, minutes have to be earned,” Rick Carlisle said after Noel’s DNP-CD in the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“There’s no doghouse here. There just isn’t. It’s pretty simple: You compete, and if you earn minutes, you get minutes. And you’ve got to compete to keep them, because it’s a competitive situation,” Carlisle continued.
Two days before training camp, Carlisle had a conference call with Noel and his agent where he informed Noel he would be coming off the bench in a season where Noel just put the biggest financial bet on his career.
Now, 14 games into the season, and Noel isn’t “earning” a single rotation minute as he has been replaced by Salah Mejri, Dwight Powell and sometimes even Maxi Kleber.
After the game against Golden State, Carlisle cited “matchups” as the reason Noel didn’t play and now its a combination of that and the fact that he isn’t “earning” minutes in the eyes of Rick Carlisle.
For Noel, he’s saying all the right things and remaining professional when I asked him if his mindset has changed since the summer in regards to his future in Dallas.
“I’ve just been focused on just coming in here and doing what I have to do, focused on the season, playing hard when I’m in the game,” Noel said. “I’m just keeping everything simplified. Things are going to come, things are going to play out. I’m just really focused on getting better and better and supporting my guys.”
It’s a weird situation and relationship between Carlisle and Noel, but a relationship we have seen hints of in Carlisle’s coaching career.
In 2014, Chandler Parsons signed a three-year deal in Dallas where a few months later Carlisle was calling Parsons overweight after a preseason loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Carlisle would later apologize for singling out Parsons like that to the media.
"Parsons spoke about it to ESPN.“His opinion of heavy is different than mine,” said Parsons, who shot 1-for-6 from 3-point range against the Thunder. “We kind of go at it every day about it. At the end of the day, I respect his opinion. After training camp, my weight fluctuates. I’ll get it down.”"
Their relationship continued on over time and came to light even more when Carlisle was electing to sit Parsons in key stretches of games in the fourth quarter, electing to go with Raymond Felton instead to finish games.
Parsons wanted to be out there in the fourth and Carlisle disagreed.
"Parsons once again spoke with ESPN about being benched.“It’s definitely strange to me, especially after how I’ve been playing,” Parsons told ESPN.com. “It’s definitely different, but every game calls for something different. You can’t have it every night. There’s going to be off nights, but I feel like I’ve played well enough to be in at the end of games.”"
Before Parsons, some would say Monta Ellis would fit into this category, but Rajon Rondo is the most notable.
It’s safe to say most fans remember the Rajon Rondo acquisition and how his tenor in Dallas played out. The personalities of Carlisle and Rondo clashed in Dallas where it even spewed out onto the court.
After Rondo was suspended for a game following this incident, the relationship with the Mavericks never worked out. After Rondo went out with a “back injury” in the playoffs that year, he would never put on a Mavericks jersey again.
Then there is the time Rick Carlisle called out Samuel Dalembert’s conditioning to the media and the team in which Dalembert said his poor play was due to an injury.
You could even talk about the Delonte West and Lamar Odom days.
What about Jason Kidd?
"“Carlisle and Kidd went through more than has ever been reported,” ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said in a story in 2015.“The friction between Kidd and Carlisle never made SportsCenter, but it was obvious to everyone in the organization.” MacMahon wrote. “Rick and Jason used to get into it about the exact same thing except Jason’s demeanor was so quiet that a lot of times people didn’t know that they were arguing,” former Mavs center Brendan Haywood, who joined the team in 2009, remembers. “They had an argument on the bench with four-letter words going back and forth, but no one knew because of Jason’s demeanor.”"
Carlisle and Kidd obviously found a way to make the situation work as they would eventually help lead the Mavericks to a championship in 2011. But you could even look back to Carlisle’s Indiana days to look at some of his player relationships also.
In that same ESPN piece in 2015 talking about Kidd and Rondo, MacMahon points out some player relationships he had in Indiana also.
“Carlisle had plenty of confrontations during his time in Indiana coaching Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley and the like,” MacMahon said.
This obviously dates back to the early 2000’s where Carlisle was the Head Coach of the Indiana Pacers from 2003-07.
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Before the Pacers, Carlisle was the Head Coach of the Detroit Pistons for two years before getting fired and heading to Indiana. When digging around for some pieces around that time on the firing of Carlisle in Detroit, I came across some interesting quotes.
"In a piece with David Aldridge in 2004, Reggie Miller gave his opinion of what might have happened in Detroit.“Me being an elder guy, an older guy, I understand his sense of humor,” Reggie Miller said. “I understand his witticism. Now, if you know Coach very well, I think the younger players can’t really adhere to a lot of his jokes, and some of his mannerisms. He’s very funny, in my eyes. And I think a lot of people don’t understand. And that’s probably what the problem — I think that was the problem — in Detroit.”"
Aldridge went on in the piece to talk about how players in Detroit weren’t that upset that Carlisle was gone.
“The Detroiters will talk very quietly about Carlisle’s personality, that he wasn’t as accommodating or friendly as they would have liked. And to be sure, it’s hard to find a Pistons player who is all broken up that Carlisle is gone,” Aldridge said.
Coming full circle to present day, the Nerlens Noel/Rick Carlisle relationship doesn’t seem out of the normal for Rick Carlisle and that isn’t all on Carlisle.
A lot of the players mentioned above had character issues that were pointed out in other circumstances outside of Carlisle, but you also can’t ignore the past Carlisle has had with his personality in basketball.
Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the NBA and brought a championship to the city of Dallas, but its safe to say his personality hasn’t been the easiest to gel with over the years.