Rick Carlisle is returning for another stint as Indiana Pacers head coach, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. The Pacers are giving Carlisle a four-year, $29 million deal.
After starting his NBA head coaching career with the Detroit Pistons, Carlisle took over as Pacers head coach for the 2003-04 season. He spent four seasons in Indiana, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in Year 1 and then sliding back one step each subsequent season.
Carlisle now returns to the Pacers to replace Nate Bjorkgren, who only lasted one season after replacing Nate McMillan. Bjorkgren had a bunch of communication issues with players and staff, so Indiana decided to pull the plug. Swooping in and nabbing Carlisle not long after he resigned as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks is a massive upgrade.
The 61-year-old Carlisle dealt with his own organizational dysfunction with the Mavs, which led to his resignation after 13 seasons with the franchise. Carlisle won a title in 2010-11 but failed to get out of the first round after that, and there were some issues with Luka Doncic and other members of the organization that recently bubbled to the surface.
Carlisle now heads to a Pacers team that’s looking to bounce back in 2021-22. There’s a good amount of talent in place with Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Myles Turner and T.J. Warren. There have been plenty of Turner trade rumors, so he could be on the move, but Indiana will likely keep most of its core intact. The hiring of Carlisle suggests a team that wants to go for it in the Eastern Conference.
Rick Carlisle is 836-689 in the regular season for his career. He’s 63-70 in the playoffs