According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, former Pacers coach and most recently, former Mavericks coach, Rick Carlisle will return to Indy to coach the Pacers once, again.
Sources: The Pacers are hiring Rick Carlisle as head coach. He will sign a 4-year, $29 million contract.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 24, 2021
Following MacMahon’s tweet, the rest of the NBA news breakers confirmed the report.
So, the Pacers found their veteran coach which will now put the onus on their veteran roster to figure it out. This hire makes it appear as though the team won’t be making wholesale changes, instead hoping that Carlisle can put the talent (when healthy) into position to win right away.
As for doubts about Herb Simon’s willingness to pay a coach, I’d say we can mute that criticism since the Pacers will be paying Carlisle over $7 million per year.
The hire closes the loop on Carlisle’s career with the Pacers which has been an interesting, winding and at times wild road. As the offensive coordinator for Larry Bird’s teams in the late 90’s it seemed he may be the heir apparent to the coaching gig after the team made the Finals and Bird stepped away.
Instead, Donnie Walsh turned to Isiah Thomas and Carlisle went to Detroit a year later. He was fired after two 50-win seasons and returned to the Pacers where he guided a talented squad into championship contention until the brawl game in November of 2004. The 2006 season started with the Club Rio Trio in training camp and the eventual dismantling of the team, leading to the “firing” of Carlisle which appeared more like a favor from his friend Bird to avoid coaching through a rough rebuild.
Now Carlisle returns the favor by returning to help solidify the Pacers coaching situation after 13 years in Dallas where he won a championship ring and pushed his career coaching record to 836-689.
UPDATE: Here is the full story on Carlisle’s move to the Pacers from MacMahaon on ESPN.com. Key quote on RC’s initial thoughts on Pacers.
“It’s an exciting situation because there’s upside here,” said Carlisle, 61, who has a career record of 836-689, ranking 15th all-time in wins. “Getting back healthy is going to be a big part of that.
“[General manager Kevin Pritchard] and I have talked extensively about the roster. I like their roster. It’s a team of skilled, unselfish guys that play hard. It’s always possible that moves could be made before the season, but I think Kevin and I are both very excited about getting the roster healthy and seeing what this team can be.”