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Rick Carlisle believes

Feb 16, 2010, 3:34 PM EST

Rick Carlisle believes. Most experts don’t — the conventional wisdom is that after this trade the Mavericks are on par with the Nuggets but still can’t get past a healthy Lakers team — but  Carlisle said in a radio interview he believes the Mavericks are now contenders.

“I do. I felt that we were a team before this trade that had enough pieces. We weren’t playing particularly well, but we had had some upheaval and some of our guys were just coming back. Believe it or not, when you get guys back from injury and start playing them again a lot of people assume hey you’re gonna start playing good. Usually you play bad for a couple of weeks before you start playing good. …  It’s gonna be my job to integrate these new guys from this deal as quickly as possible and then we’re going full bore guns a blazing. It ain’t easy in the West but like I said you gotta love the challenge.”

Carlisle believes because he has to. Mark Cuban, to his credit, went for it. Again. He made the big move, he took on some more salary ($30 million over the next couple of years) to improve his team. They were one of the best teams in the West to start the season, but injuries and more have weighed them down in recent weeks. They are 4-6 in their last 10.

This should change that. This should make the Mavericks a good team. A contender? Well, Carlisle believes.

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