Dallas Mavericks

Rick Carlisle Headed Back to Indiana to Coach the Pacers

ESPN reports it's a 4-year, $29 million deal for former Mavs coach

The Pacers have lured Rick Carlisle back to Indiana.

ESPN's Tim MacMahon said Thursday morning Carlisle agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal to be the Pacers' next head coach.

The team confirmed the announcement later in the afternoon.

"Rick is a proven winner with a championship and will be a Hall of Fame coach," said Kevin Pritchard, Pacers president of basketball operations. "He has demonstrated throughout his career an ability to build something with sustainable success. He has great respect for our franchise and our fans from his previous times here. We are very happy to welcome him back to Indiana."

Carlisle informed Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban a week ago that he would not be returning next season just a day after general manager Donnie Nelson said he was leaving the team. While Carlisle released a statement to ESPN about his departure, he didn't elaborate on what led him to leave the Mavs after 13 seasons. Owner Mark Cuban said it was Carlisle's decision to leave.

"After a number of in-person conversations with Mark Cuban over the last week, today I informed him that I will not be returning as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. This was solely my decision. My family and I have had an amazing 13-year experience working with great people in a great city. It has been an honor to work alongside Mark, Cynt, Donnie, Fin, Keith, Dirk, JKidd and every player and assistant coach I've had here. Dallas will always be home, but I am excited about the next chapter of my coaching career."

Carlisle was hired on May 9, 2008, is the only coach to lead the Mavericks to a championship (2011).

NBC Sports reported Wednesday The Pacers were looking to hire a former NBA head coach "after the disastrous tenure of Nate Bjorkgren, a rookie NBA head coach" and that Carlisle might be their top pick.

Carlisle previously coached in Indiana from 2003-07 where he guided Indiana to the playoffs in three of four years, including a trip to the 2004 Eastern Conference finals. Before Indiana, Carlisle's other head coaching gig was with the Detroit Pistons from 2001-2003..

Bjorkgren was fired on June 9 after the team said the season was "not what any of us hoped or anticipated it would be, and our results on the court certainly did not meet the standards for what our organization and our fans have come to expect."

Bjorkgren was hired prior to the 2020-21 season and led the Pacers to a 34-38 record. He previously served as an assistant coach in Toronto and Phoenix.

The Pacers are betting Carlisle, a one-time assistant on Larry Bird's coaching staff, will bring stability to a veteran team that was eliminated in the play-in round, ending a streak of five consecutive playoff appearances.

Carlisle is 836-689 overall in tenures with the Pacers, Pistons and Mavs. He spent the last 13 seasons in Dallas, going 555-478 and winning the franchise's only NBA title in 2011. With Indiana, Carlisle went 181-147 in four seasons.

What they're getting in Carlisle is something they didn't have in Bjorkgren -- a coach with a long track record.

The question will be how he fits in?

Players told Pritchard in exit interviews they thought Bjorkgren was a micromanager and it led to problems privately and publicly, such as a shouting match between backup center Goga Bitadze and assistant coach Greg Foster.

In Dallas, there were similar complaints -- and results -- about Carlisle.

NBC 5 and The Associated Press
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