Amid speculation that Pacers coach Rick Carlisle desired to make a switch to a front office role, Carlisle adamantly denied those rumors on Thursday afternoon.
“I came here to coach. …I want to put this to rest once and for all,” Carlisle said (Twitter links via Pacers VP of basketball communications Michael Preston). “…Let me be absolutely clear. I’m here to coach this team and coach this team for the long-haul. I’m not afraid of any aspect of a rebuild one bit. Not one single bit.”
The speculation about the possibility of Carlisle transitioning to the front office has been persistent for several months, and popped again last week in Chicago when NBA executives attended the McDonald’s All-America game, as relayed by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report and Marc Stein (Twitter links).
At 62, Carlisle is the fifth-oldest head coach in the league (per Basketball Reference), so the rumors that he might not have the patience to coach through another rebuild make some sense. I use “another” because the Mavericks, his former team, struggled from 2016-19, going a combined 90-158 over the three seasons.
The Pacers were expected to compete for a playoff spot this season, even if it was on the bottom end, and instead have been one of the worst teams in the league. As shown by our reverse standings, Indiana currently holds a 25-55 record, the fifth-worst mark in the league.
However, owner Herb Simon has previously stated he doesn’t want to undertake a full-fledged rebuild, and that was made evident by the team acquiring a second-year player, Tyrese Haliburton, as opposed to draft picks at the trade deadline (as part of a larger deal headlined by Domantas Sabonis being sent to Sacramento).