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Pacers hire Carlisle
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Old 03 Sep 2003, 08:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Pacers hire Carlisle

INDIANAPOLIS -- Rick Carlisle was hired Wednesday as the Indiana Pacers' new coach, three years after the former assistant was bypassed in favor of Isiah Thomas.

Carlisle, coach of the Detroit Pistons the past two years, was fired by the Pistons in May. He was the first choice for the Pacers after new president Larry Bird, his former Boston teammate, fired Thomas last month.

"I know our fans are familiar with him, and I look forward to a great year," Bird said in a statement. "He has tremendous knowledge of the game, and I firmly believe he is the right coach for this team."

The Pacers last season got off to the best start in their 27-year NBA history but faded after the All-Star break, losing in the first round of playoffs for the third straight year under Thomas.

Thomas, a Hall of Famer who spent his entire 13-year playing career with the Pistons, had one year left on his contract with Indiana. The Pacers must pay him $5 million for the final year.

In announcing his decision to fire Thomas on Aug. 27, Bird said he did not feel comfortable with the Pacers' direction because of their collapse after a 37-15 start last season.

Carlisle played with the Celtics for three years and was Bird's teammate on Boston's 1986 NBA championship team. He was an assistant in Portland for three years and New Jersey for five years before coming to Indiana with Bird in 1997.

When Bird stepped down after taking the Pacers to the NBA Finals in 2000, Carlisle applied for the job but it went to Thomas, a former vice president and part-owner of the Toronto Raptors.

"I said when I left, this was one of the best jobs in professional sports, and my opinion hasn't changed," Carlisle said in a statement issued by the team Wednesday.

Carlisle, meanwhile, was hired by Detroit in 2001 and went 100-64 with two Central Division titles. But the Pistons lost to Boston in the second round of playoffs in 2002 and were swept by the Nets in the Eastern Conference finals this year.

Carlisle then was fired with one year and $2 million left on his contract and was replaced by Larry Brown -- the Pacers' coach before Bird -- who resigned after six years with Philadelphia.

Bird returned to his home state in July, taking the title of team president and the day-to-day operation of the franchise from Donnie Walsh, who remained the chief executive officer.

"I said when I left, this was one of the best jobs in professional sports, and my opinion hasn't changed," Carlisle said in a statement issued by the team.

The Pacers were 131-115 under Thomas, who often was criticized for his inconsistent player rotations with one of the youngest rosters in the NBA.

This summer, the Pacers lost free agent Brad Miller -- a first-time All-Star this year -- but re-signed All-Star Jermaine O'Neal and Reggie Miller.

O'Neal, the team's scoring and rebounding leader, said last week that he would not have re-signed with Indiana if he had known Thomas would not be returning as coach.
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Old 03 Sep 2003, 08:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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not surprising since Carlisle was an assistant under Bird when he coached the Pacers. Carlisle also has a solid resume with back to back 50 win seasons and trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. Curious to see what O'Neal has to say about this hire after his comments from last week.
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Old 03 Sep 2003, 09:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow, no surprise there. My only worry is about O'neal. I'd hate to see him seek a trade because of this. That probably won't happen though scince he is familiar with Carlsie.
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Old 03 Sep 2003, 11:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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He will do a much better job than Thomas that's 4 sure
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