Rick Carlisle was officially introduced as Pacers coach and continues to express his usual dose of excitement about his second go-round with the team.
“This is my kind of team. As I look at the roster and as I’ve talked to all these guys, I have an even greater feeling that it’s a group of guys I will have a blast working with,” Carlisle told reporters. “I like the way they’re talking. We’re going to find a way to play better defense and we’ve got to get back to the playoffs and win in the playoffs.”
Carlisle coached the Mavericks for the past 13 seasons, winning a championship in 2011. Long before that, he coached the Pacers. (2003-07)
Pacers president Kevin Pritchard indicated bringing back Carlisle was basically a no-brainer. Indiana was looking for a established coach after parting ways with Nate Bjorkgren after one season. Bjorkgren had never been a head coach before the Pacers.
“We’re in a win-now mode, we’re trying to win and so we identified some traits or characteristics we wanted in a coach,” Pritchard said. “Those characteristics were first of all multiyear experience, we really wanted to have someone who had a championship pedigree and that can be challenging to find all of them in one person. What happened in this year’s search is Rick became available.”
Carlisle, 61, enters a situation in Indiana that is fairly decent when everyone is healthy — with the likes of power forward Domantas Sabonis, small forward T.J. Warren (when healthy), shooting guard Caris LeVert, point guard Malcolm Brogdon and center Myles Turner already on the roster.
“My goal with this group is to develop it to a point where we take great joy in getting good shots on the offensive end and take great joy in playing good defense,” he said, before citing the Sabonis-Turner frontcourt specifically.
“I think there are ways we can work with their individual games and help them mesh with other guys on the floor. I’ve talked to both of them about it, and they’re open to it. Myles is such an elite rim protector and that’s such an important part of the game if you’re going to get better defensively. And Domas, as I mentioned earlier, can do so many things.”
Carlisle compiled a 555-478 record with the Mavs overall. Prior to that, he coached the Pistons for two seasons, finishing 100-64 in Detroit. He went 181-74 during his previous run with the Pacers.