Rick Carlisle will make his triumphant return to the Indiana Pacers sidelines in 2021.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported Carlisle has signed a four-year worth $29 million to lead his former team in the Pacers. Prior to arriving in Dallas in 2008, Carlisle had been the Pacers head coach for four seasons from 2003 to 2007. Indiana made the Eastern Conference Playoffs three times in his initial four-year run leading the Pacers, making it to the conference finals in 2004.
Having a strong head coach in Carlisle on the sidelines will get the Pacers back into the playoffs.
Rick Carlisle has agreed to become the next head coach of the Indiana Pacers
While this could be seen as reaching into the past by some, Carlisle is exactly the type of leader the Pacers were in need of. They went one-and-done with former head coach Nate Bjorkgren after letting go of Nate McMillan after the Orlando bubble for some reason. Carlisle had plenty of options, but deciding to go back to Indianapolis where he previously had success speaks volumes.
Though he leaves behind an emerging star in Luka Doncic in Dallas, he goes to a basketball culture that prioritizes being competitive above all else in Indiana. While the Pacers may not be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference next season, Carlisle should have Domantas Sabonis and company back in the NBA Playoffs as a top-eight seed in 2022. Carlisle’s return is a massive deal.
Indiana is banking on Carlisle elevating the Pacers’ overall ceiling simply upon his arrival in 2021.