Pacers hiring Rick Carlisle as new head coach, reportedly signing him to 4-year deal

The Indiana Pacers and former Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle are reuniting after 14 years apart. The Pacers announced they have reached an agreement to hire Carlisle as their next head coach.

ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported the deal is for four years and worth $29 million with incentives.

This is familiar ground for Carlisle, who was the Pacers' head coach from 2003 to 2007. He had originally entered the organization in 1997 as an assistant under then-head coach Larry Bird, leaving in 2000 after he was passed over for Bird's job.

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After two seasons serving as the head coach for the Detroit Pistons (which ended with his unceremonious firing), Carlisle returned to the Pacers (for the first time) as head coach. He was fired after two great seasons and two lackluster seasons, but that twist of fate is what led him to the Mavericks. He was hired in 2008 and would stay for 13 years.

Carlisle's Mavericks had a 1033-555 record over 13 seasons, made the playoffs nine times and won the franchise's first-ever championship in 2011. He stepped down in mid-June amid reports of tensions within the organization, just one day after longtime general manager Donnie Nelson was fired.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 16: Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks looks on during a timeout in the second quarter of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on May 16, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated the Mavericks 136-121. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Nearly 15 years after he was fired, Rick Carlisle is returning as head coach of the Pacers. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Pacers looking to rebound

Carlisle is replacing Nate Bjorkgren, who was fired after just one year as head coach. In that one year, Bjorkgren managed to reportedly lose the locker room and end the team's five-year playoff streak. Plus, their 34-38 record was the first time they'd finished under .500 since the 2009-10 season.


Those are mistakes that Carlisle likely won't make. Bjorkgren took a good team and made them mediocre, and Carlisle is well suited to erase those mistakes. Beyond his lengthy résumé of experience, he's also known to be adaptable, which will go a long way toward winning over the locker room. He's not Nate Bjorkgren, so he's already got a head start.

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