Pacers bring back Rick Carlisle as head coach | Inquirer Sports
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Pacers bring back Rick Carlisle as head coach

/ 02:38 PM June 25, 2021
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FILE PHOTO: Former Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle during game two in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the LA Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers on Thursday named Rick Carlisle as their head coach for a second time.

Carlisle, 61, will sign a four-year, $29 million contract, per ESPN.

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“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 will take over the role from Nate Bjorkgren, who was fired June 9 after one season as head coach. Bjorkgren guided the team to a 34-38 record in 2020-21, and Indiana missed the playoffs after a blowout loss to the Washington Wizards in the play-in tournament.

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“My sincere thanks to Herb Simon, Kevin Pritchard and the entire Pacers organization for the opportunity to come back to basketball’s heartland,” Carlisle said in a team-issued statement.

Carlisle was the Pacers’ coach from 2003-07, and he compiled a 181-147 record over those four seasons. He also was an assistant under Larry Bird from 1997-2000 before accepting his first head-coaching job in 2001 with the Detroit Pistons.

“It’s an exciting situation because there’s upside here,” Carlisle told ESPN on Thursday. “Getting back healthy is going to be a big part of that.

“(Pritchard) and I have talked extensively about the roster. I like their roster. It’s a team of skilled, unselfish guys that play hard. It’s always possible that moves could be made before the season, but I think Kevin and I are both very excited about getting the roster healthy and seeing what this team can be.”

The hiring comes one week after Carlisle stepped down as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, the team he guided to its only NBA championship in 2011. Carlisle had led the Mavericks since the start of the 2008 season.

“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. “I just have such great respect for (Mavericks owner Mark Cuban) and everyone there, and I’m fortunate to move on to another great opportunity.”

In 19 seasons as head coach for the Pistons, Pacers and Mavericks, Carlisle has an 836-689 record in the regular season. His teams qualified for the playoffs in 14 of those seasons and were 63-70.

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