Former Dallas Maverick’s head coach Rick Carlisle is headed back to Indiana to coach the Pacers after agreeing to a 4-year deal for $29 million, plus incentives per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
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
Before the 61-year-old coach spent 13 seasons in Dallas and helped the franchise to its only title in 2011, he drew up X’s and O’s for the Pacers from 2003-2007.
Rick Carlisle also worked as an assistant under Larry Bird with the Pacers before leaving for his first head coaching position with the Detroit Pistons.
He inherits a Pacers team that finished 34-38 this season before losing to the Washington Wizards in their second play-in game.
Carlisle told ESPN, “It’s [Indiana] a team of skilled, unselfish guys that play hard. It’s always possible that moves could be made before the season, but I think [GM Kevin Pritchard] and I are both very excited about getting the roster healthy and seeing what this team can be.”
The Pacers fired coach Nate Bjorkgren after a season marked by locker-room drama and defensive issues.
Bjorkgren was said to be so hard on players and coaches that Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis felt compelled to approach Bjorkgren and encourage him to be kinder to Indiana’s staff.
While Bjorkgren’s firing wasn’t surprising, Carlisle’s sudden departure from Dallas was.
Carlise announced he was leaving the team just one day after longtime GM Donnie Nelson said he and Dallas were parting ways.
“You never want to get to a point where you ever feel like you’re overstaying your welcome, and I just felt like this is the right time,” Carlisle said Thursday. “I just have such great respect for [Mavs owner Mark Cuban] and everyone there, and I’m fortunate to move on to another great opportunity.”
Over his 17-year coaching career, Carlisle is 836-689 with a .548 winning percentage.