This after a 13-year run with the Mavericks that included a championship.
Carlisle, 61, enters a situation in Indiana that is fairly decent when everyone is healthy — with the likes of power forward Domantas Sabonis, shooting guard Caris LeVert, point guard Malcolm Brogdon and center Myles Turner already on the roster.
OFFICIAL: We have reached an agreement with Rick Carlisle to become head coach.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) June 24, 2021
Not surprisingly, Carlisle expressed reasons for optimism in his new position.
“It’s a team of skilled, unselfish guys that play hard,” he told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “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.”
For starters, the Pacers own the No. 13 overall draft pick. It’s a familiar spot, as they haven’t selected in single digits since 1989 (George McCloud, No. 7 overall).
They will also have to figure out what to do about point guard T.J. McConnell, small forward Doug McDermott and center JaKarr Sampson, all key members of the rotation and all unrestricted free agents.
But they have a good starting point in Carlisle, who is actually in his second stint with the Pacers, having coached the franchise from 2003-07. Before that, he was an assistant under Larry Bird.
He stepped down as Mavericks coach one day after former general manager Donnie Nelson parted ways with the franchise after 24 years.
“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, via MacMahon. “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.”
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.