When Kevin Pritchard hired Nate Bjorkgren to be the Pacers head coach, he took a calculated risk. Looking back on it, the risk didn’t pay off — former Raptors assistant was fired after going 34-38 in his only season with the team. So this time, Indiana’s president of basketball operations went with a much safer bet.
Sources: The Pacers are hiring Rick Carlisle as head coach. He will sign a 4-year, $29 million contract.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 24, 2021
Carlisle spent 13 seasons with the Mavericks, becoming the franchise’s winningest coach with a 555-478 record, leading Dallas to the franchise’s only championship in 2011. He previously coached the Pacers for four seasons (2003-04 to 2006-07), leading the team to Eastern Conference Finals in 2003-04. He also was a top assistant under Larry Bird for three seasons.
Carlisle becomes the third Pacers coach in less than a year — Bjorkgren replaced Nate McMillan after his fourth-straight first-round exit in the ’20 NBA Playoffs — looking to restore locker room stability after apparent turmoil between the coaching staff and players towards the end of the season. But the players have to do their part as well, and the Pacers legend Reggie Miller called them out for it.
l think it’s more so time now for the players currently with the Pacers to start looking themselves in the mirror because they ran off Nate McMillan, a final four coach here. First-year head coach Nate Bjorkgren was gone after one year. So the player have no more excuses now. They’re getting a Hall of Fame coach to be coming in, a guy that’s won a championship. It’s time for these players to start looking in the mirror a little bit.Reggie Miller
Rick is excited about the opportunity to coach the Pacers, citing his trust in the team’s owner Herb Simon as the biggest reason he took the job in the first place. “It’s an exciting situation because there’s upside here,” he said. “Getting back healthy is going to be a big part of that.“
The Pacers do have a nice young core. Guys like Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Caris LeVert are only going to get better as time goes on, and Carlisle is the perfect coach to help them get where they want to be even quicker. But they have to buy in and hold themselves accountable. No more excuses!
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