Rick Carlisle

Eastern Notes: Carlisle, Knicks, Anunoby, Claxton, Stewart, Wizards

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle‘s comments about the officiating following Wednesday’s Game 2, which earned him a $35K fine from the NBA, were “disrespectful” to the Knicks, according to New York forward Josh Hart. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Hart said Carlisle’s insinuation that the Knicks are winning because of the officiating “discredit(s) how we’re playing,” according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Hart also laughed off Carlisle’s claim that the referees are favoring the big-market team in the series.

“That’s so stupid, bro,” Hart said. “I mean, we’re going to say the big market always wins? The Knicks ain’t won a [championship] in 51 years. So obviously that don’t hold much weight. I don’t fully understand that. Sorry, New York, for the reminder [about the 51-year drought]. But I think that’s just idiotic. At the end of the day it’s who’s playing the best. I’ve never seen a ref shoot a free throw or make a three or miss a rotation.”

According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link), the Knicks have their own complaints about the referees through the first two games of the series, with members of the organization upset by how Jalen Brunson is being officiated. Those Knicks officials believe Brunson is being grabbed and hit “up and down the floor” and it’s going unnoticed by the refs.

Meanwhile, Carlisle was asked on Friday about his response to the $35K fine and suggested he didn’t have any regrets, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link).

“I’m gonna support my players and our fan base, and our ownership, 100%, and I’m done talking about it,” the Pacers’ coach said.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Knicks forward OG Anunoby, who is dealing with a left hamstring strain, traveled to Indianapolis with the team for Games 3 and 4. While that means he could theoretically play on Sunday if he makes a quick recovery, that seems unlikely. The main reason he’s traveling with the club is because the medical staff is in Indiana, according to Begley, who tweets that Anunoby is getting treatment three times per day.
  • It looks like the Nets are going to do whatever it takes to re-sign free agent center Nic Claxton, and that’s the right call, according to Lucas Kaplan of NetsDaily, who argues that even if it costs $25MM per year, that’s a fair price based on the growth of the NBA’s salary cap. For what it’s worth, $25MM will be approximately the same percentage of the cap in 2024/25 that $20MM was three seasons ago.
  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com recaps Isaiah Stewart‘s season and looks ahead to what’s next for the Pistons big man, who will begin a four-year, $60MM extension this July. Despite being the longest-tenured Pistons player, Stewart will still be just 23 years old next season, Langlois points out, arguing that his transition from center to forward this past season increases his versatility and value.
  • The Wizards will own a top-six pick in this year’s draft, and while the general consensus is that the 2024 class lacks star-level talent at the top, general manager Will Dawkins says he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to that line of thinking, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “I think people hold their cards tight to their vests strategically, so I definitely don’t agree with the narrative,” Dawkins told Robbins. “I think people realize how good this draft is, and in any draft, I’d rather have the power of choice to make the decision than be left with other players on the board that I might not feel as good about. So for me and the Wizards, we’re ones that would always want the highest pick possible if you have an option to choose a player.”

Pacers’ Rick Carlisle Fined $35K For Criticizing Officials

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle has been fined $35K by the NBA for public criticism of the officiating, as well as questioning the integrity of the league and its officials, the league’s communications department announced (via Twitter).

Carlisle was ejected late in the fourth quarter of the team’s Game 2 loss to the Knicks on Wednesday. Then, during his postgame media session, he criticized the officiating in both games of the series, claiming that “small-market teams” don’t get the same calls as the big-market clubs.

“I’m always talking to our guys about not making it about the officials,” Carlisle said. “But we deserve a fair shot. There’s not a consistent balance, and that’s disappointing. Give New York credit for the physicality that they’re playing with. But their physicality is rewarded and ours is penalized. Time after time. I’m just really disappointed.”

The Pacers reportedly submitted 78 plays to the league on Thursday, covering the first two games, that they felt were incorrectly called.

Pacers Notes: Carlisle, Officiating, Disputed Calls, Haliburton, Turner

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle downplayed some controversial calls in Game 1 of his team’s series against the Knicks, saying “We’re not expecting to get calls in here (at Madison Square Garden).”

He struck a much different tone during and after Indiana’s Game 2 loss on Wednesday. Carlisle was ejected late in the fourth quarter of the Pacers’ 130-121 loss, then ripped the officiating in the postgame press conference, claiming that “small-market teams” don’t get a fair shake.

“Small-market teams deserve an equal shot,” Carlisle said, per Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. “They deserve a fair shot no matter where they’re playing.”

Carlisle pointed out a number of instances where he felt his team got an unfavorable whistle or a no-call on a Knicks foul.

“I’m always talking to our guys about not making it about the officials,” Carlisle said. “But we deserve a fair shot. There’s not a consistent balance, and that’s disappointing. Give New York credit for the physicality that they’re playing with. But their physicality is rewarded and ours is penalized. Time after time. I’m just really disappointed.”

The Pacers have submitted 78 plays to the league, covering the first two games, that they felt were incorrectly called, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports. That includes 49 calls from Wednesday’s contest. As part of NBA protocol, the clips will also be shared with the Knicks.

We have more on the Pacers:

  • While Carlisle and the Pacers front office may be incensed with the officiating, their players were less critical. “Let’s not pretend like [officiating] is the only reason we lost. We just didn’t play good enough,” Tyrese Haliburton said, according to Windhorst. “We just got to be better.”
  • T.J. McConnell said afterward in a video posted by SNY TV (Twitter link), “We love Rick showing that type of energy on the court, but that’s not the feeling that we have in the locker room. We’re not going to sit here and blame officials. We gotta be better. It’s just that simple.”
  • One very positive development for the Pacers was the play of Haliburton. After scoring just six points in Game 1, the All-Star guard poured in a game-high 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including 7-of-11 on three-point attempts, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. “I just shot more shots, took what the defense gave me,” he said.
  • Meanwhile, Myles Turner pulled a disappearing act, Peter Botte of the New York Post points out. The Pacers’ starting center was held to six points and was minus-21 in 31 minutes after scoring 23 points in Game 1.

Central Notes: Pacers, McConnell, P. Williams, Pistons

The Pacers had two tough calls go against them in the final minute of Game 1, but coach Rick Carlisle refused to blame the officials for the loss, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The first came with 52 seconds remaining when Aaron Nesmith was called for a kicked ball violation, even though the ball appeared to hit his hand rather than his foot. The other one happened when Myles Turner was whistled for a moving screen with 18.4 seconds left to play. Carlisle challenged the call, but the replay crew upheld it and that decision was confirmed in the Last Two Minute report.

“There’s so many events in an NBA game,” Carlisle said. “They’re always a sharp focus on the last minute, but there were things that happened with five or six minutes left that really hurt us. We had one play where one of our guys took a wild run to try to gamble and steal the ball, and it turned into a four-point play for them. I think we had a five-point lead at the time, and so, it’s not just the last minute or two. It’s a whole game. The whole fourth quarter. So this is a great experience for our guys. It comes at a cost. It’s so fun. But we’re gonna have to learn some things for Game 2.”

With the series resuming tonight, Nehm states that Indiana will need improved play down the stretch from Tyrese Haliburton and more attention toward keeping Josh Hart off the boards and the free throw line. Hart collected 13 rebounds in the opener and scored 10 of his 24 points in transition.

“He’s probably one of the best rebounder wings in the league, if not the best rebounding wing in the league,” Haliburton said. “You got to match his intensity there when he’s crashing. He was getting downhill, getting to the free throw yesterday. And then just in transition, when he gets the ball, I think everybody in the world knows he’s going left to right, Euro step. Still, he gets to it.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Speaking to reporters before tonight’s game, Carlisle talked about how difficult it was to coach against Pacers guard T.J. McConnell before they joined forces, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Carlisle recalled a game in which his Dallas team turned the ball over 16 times in the first half against McConnell’s Sixers. “To me, he was always such an effective player,” Carlisle said. “… He was just an enormous annoyance when you’re trying to play them.”
  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams turned down a four-year extension offer worth about $64MM before the start of the 2023/24 season, sources tell K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Johnson adds that Williams, who is headed toward restricted free agency, is expected to make a full recovery well before training camp after having surgery on his left foot in February.
  • It has been more than three weeks since the Pistons announced that they plan to hire a new head of basketball operations, but there have been no reports of any interviews in that time, Keith Langlois of NBA.com notes in a mailbag column. Langlois expects the interview process to get underway soon so that draft preparation can begin in earnest.

Knicks Notes: Brunson, Hart, Randle, Toppin

The last time Knicks guard Jalen Brunson and Pacers coach Rick Carlisle were together in a playoff series, they were on the same side, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. It was 2021, long before Brunson became an All-Star, and he saw just 10 minutes off the bench in a Game 7 loss to the Clippers that turned out to be the end of Carlisle’s tenure in Dallas. Asked about that experience after Saturday’s practice, Brunson said there are no hard feelings and it won’t factor into his preparation for the matchup with Indiana.

“In all honesty, I said this last time, you’re in the playoffs now, there is no extra motivation,” Brunson said. “It is what it is. The past is the past. Rick welcomed me into the league and helped me become the player [I am today] and helped me grow from Day 1. Coaches got to make decisions that better suit their teams. Whatever happened, happened, and we’re moving forward from there.” 

Brunson’s game flourished after Jason Kidd replaced Carlisle with the Mavericks, enabling him to get a huge offer from the Knicks as a free agent in 2022. Carlisle also said there’s no point in focusing on the past and acknowledged that Brunson has become one of the league’s top players.

“Jalen Brunson is a guy you would never bet against,” Carlisle said. “You just don’t bet against that guy. I don’t know if anybody saw this coming, what he’s achieved for two years now, but if you know him and you know his character, you’re not surprised. You’re not shocked.” 

There’s more from New York:

  • Comments that Josh Hart made about Indiana in February are being revisited ahead of the Knicks-Pacers series, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Hart was critical of the Hoosier State on a “Roommates Show” podcast with Brunson, saying, “If I don’t have to play the Indiana Pacers, I’m not stepping foot in that state. I don’t want to be in Indiana for any All-Star break, for anything. I am not an Indiana guy.” Hart added that he enjoys a couple of Indianapolis food options, but otherwise called the state “bottom of the barrel.”
  • Even though the Knicks were able to get past Philadelphia in round one, Hart said they’re not the same team without Julius Randle, relays Ian Begley of SNY. Randle has been out of action since separating his right shoulder in late January. “He’s an All-Star. He [averaged] 24-9-and-5 or whatever it is, so that play-making, shot making, is something that we’re missing,” Hart said. “It’s funny: when people talk about us they somehow forget the big void we have of 24-and-9 gone. It’s not like he’s out there with us 70-80 percent.  He’s not out there. So that’s something that’s a big void that we knew was gonna be hard to fill; but his play-making, his shot making, his energy is something that we definitely miss.”
  • One of the storylines of the upcoming series will be the presence of Obi Toppin, who was Leon Rose’s first draft pick after taking over as president of the Knicks, Botte notes in a separate story. Toppin was stuck behind Randle in New York, but he posted career-best numbers after being traded to Indiana last summer for a pair of second-round picks.

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Lillard, Portis, Middleton, Horst

Trailing 3-1 in their series with Indiana, the Bucks‘ best hope for a comeback rests with the return of injured stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, writes Jim Owczarski of The Journal Sentinel. Both players sat out Sunday’s loss, but neither has been ruled out for the series, which resumes Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

Antetokounmpo, who has been sidelined since suffering a calf strain April 9, has been listed as doubtful for the first four games. However, there’s cause for optimism after the former MVP completed an intense workout Sunday morning.

“It went well,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He moved, he shot, he’s running now with no resistance. So those are all very good signs.” Rivers said he’s “optimistic” about Antetokounmpo’s chances to return at some point, adding, “Like I think there’s a chance for him to play in this series. I really do.”

Lillard aggravated his right Achilles tendon late in Game 3. He wore a walking boot for Saturday’s film session, but didn’t have it on as he sat on the bench for Sunday’s contest. He was officially listed as out with tendinitis in the Achilles tendon.

“Not shutting him down,” Rivers said. “That’s a fact. I can say that much for sure.”

There is “obviously pessimism” about the status of both players with a quick turnaround for Game 5, Shams Charania said this morning on Run It Back (video link).

There’s more on the Bucks:

  • Milwaukee lost an important part of its rotation on Sunday when Bobby Portis was ejected seven minutes into the game for an altercation with Andrew Nembhard (video link), notes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Although Nembhard pulled Portis’ arm, the officials determined during a video review that Portis’ push and open-handed strike were two separate hostile acts, meeting the standard for an ejection. “The emotions got the best of him,” Khris Middleton said. “I thought, for the most part of the year, he’s done a great job flirting with that line and not crossing over it. Tonight, it just crossed over at the worst time for us.”
  • Middleton played 40 minutes on Sunday despite pain in both ankles, Nehm adds. The veteran swingman was dealing with a sprained right ankle entering the game, and he hurt the left one when Myles Turner landed on it during a third quarter collision.
  • Sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer there’s a legitimate chance that general manager Jon Horst will leave the Bucks this summer to become head of basketball operations for the Pistons. Horst wasn’t on board with either of the team’s coaching hirings over the past year, according to O’Connor, as he preferred Nick Nurse when the organization opted for Adrian Griffin to please Antetokounmpo and he pushed for Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson when Rivers was brought in at midseason. O’Connor notes that Horst is a Michigan native who got his first front office job with the Pistons, and he might be more comfortable building a young team than refining Milwaukee’s aging roster.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic looks at the strategic adjustments made by Rivers and Indiana’s Rick Carlisle that have helped to shape the series.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Dinwiddie, Carlisle, Clippers

Stephen Curry was on the bench for nearly an 11-minute stretch Sunday night as the Warriors dropped a crucial game in Minnesota, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Curry checked out of the game with four minutes remaining in the third quarter and didn’t return until midway through the fourth quarter. He scored 31 points in 30 minutes, but Golden State couldn’t recover as its lead slipped to one game over Houston in the battle for the final play-in spot.

“We can’t expect to just ride Steph game after game after game,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ve put the burden of this franchise on his shoulders for 15 years. We can’t expect him to play 35 minutes … If you want to say that him playing 30 minutes instead of 32 is a difference between a win and a loss, I totally disagree with that. We’re trying to win the game. And we’re trying to keep him fresh, too.”

Kerr was determined to not overwork Curry after he played 35 minutes, including the entire fourth quarter, in Friday’s loss to Indiana. Curry said he wants to play as much as he’s “fresh and able to,” but he didn’t question Kerr’s decision.

“The situation will define itself in real-time,” he said. “Every game matters as we’re inching closer to the other end of the standings we never thought we would be in. No one is going to wave the white flag and say we are mailing it in. If that means playing more minutes, I’ll be ready to do that.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • With D’Angelo Russell sidelined by an illness, Spencer Dinwiddie made his second start since joining the Lakers and delivered 26 points in a win over Indiana. He talked to Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter video link) about finding a role in L.A. after signing with the team last month. “It’s just about reading the room and understanding you’re a part of something bigger,” Dinwiddie said.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle became the latest opponent to complain about a foul discrepancy after playing the Lakers, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. L.A. shot 38-of-43 from the free throw line in the five-point victory, while Indiana was just 9-of-16. “There were certain things that were impossible to overcome,” Carlisle said. “The 27-free-throw differential is one. The 17-foul differential is the other. And I’ll leave it at that.”
  • The Clippers are in danger of squandering home court in the first round after losing Sunday to the shorthanded Sixers, notes Kevin Baxter of The Los Angeles Times. L.A. is just a half-game ahead of fifth-place New Orleans. “We talk about it every day,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “Not taking shortcuts and doing it the right way. And so I think they’re frustrated as well. I mean, it’s embarrassing. When you come in minus Joel Embiid, (Nicolas Batum) sits out tonight and you’re playing at home, you have to take advantage of those type of things. You keep talking about it. But at some point, you’ve got to do it.”

Central Notes: Merrill, Walker, Pacers, Middleton

Cavaliers guard Sam Merrill led Cleveland to a victory over the Jazz on Wednesday behind a franchise record-tying eight three-pointers off the bench. After beginning the year on the outside looking in to the Cavs’ rotation, Merrill is establishing himself as a key depth piece over the past week, which was highlighted by his career-high 27 points against Utah.

In his past five games, Merrill is averaging 14.0 points while shooting a scorching-hot 53.8% from downtown on 7.8 attempts per game.

This is what the NBA is about. It’s about making dreams come true,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Merrill, per Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor (Subscriber link). “He’s worked his tail off, and he’s definitely making his dream come true.

Fedor further explores the Utah State product’s rise to the top of Cleveland’s bench in a separate subscriber-only story, detailing his climb from unheralded high school guard to an eventual 10-day contract with the Cavs late last season, where he has remained since.

J.B. reiterated the trust that the whole staff has in me and what I can do,” Merrill said. “For me, it’s always going to be a fight to show that I can do more than just shoot. I think they’ve understood that from the moment they signed me that there’s more to it, especially on the defensive end competing and staying in front of guys and being in the right spots and whatnot. I certainly came away with quite a bit of confidence.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers rookie forward Jarace Walker is showing signs of progress with his play as of late, writes IndyStar’s Dustin Dopirak. The 2023 No. 8 overall pick played three straight games with the Pacers, totaling more minutes in those games than he had all season. Still, according to coach Rick Carlisle, the organization is impressed, but is keeping to a specific developmental timeline with Walker and they sent him back to the G League after their Dec. 16 game against Minnesota. Center Myles Turner missed Indiana’s Dec. 18 outing, but per Dopirak, the Pacers stayed committed to their plan of having Walker spend more time with the Mad Ants. When asked what Walker needs to improve, Carlisle said he wants Walker to be “a more disciplined defender than his instincts want him to be” and to “limit willy-nilly gambles.” (Twitter link via Dopirak).
  • Carlisle refrained from making any drastic changes to the Pacers rotation, even though he floated the idea, after the Pacers lost four games in a row soon after the In-Season Tournament championship, Dopirak writes in another piece. After staying the course with the current lineup, Indiana responded with a 31-point victory over the Hornets on Wednesday. “Coming off a high high at the In-Season Tournament and coming back to regular NBA basketball, it was a transition nobody was used to,” guard Buddy Hield said. “That’s the first time we all went through that. We figured it out, weathered the storm.
  • Bucks wing Khris Middleton endured a difficult year in 2022 and into 2023, dealing with personal matters and injury flare ups, writes Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Owczarski. Now he’s back to playing a full workload for the first time since April 2022. Middleton went into detail with Owczarski on his difficult journey as of late. “I’ve been thinking and hoping that I’m getting out of that stretch of my life where I can move on to a little bit more positive things,” Middleton said. “But yeah, it got really high then it got really low for me the last year or two. But that’s life. We go through things at different stages and you learn from it and grow from it. I think that’s the most important thing. Try to let a lot of frustration go and realize part of it is life and just try to grow with it and learn from it all and appreciate things a little bit more.” I recommend checking out the piece in full here.

Central Notes: Pistons, Carlisle, McConnell, Harden

The Pistons are trying to build a team that could epitomize both the “Bad Boys” teams of the ’80s and ’90s, as well as the “Goin’ to Work” Pistons of the 2000s, according to The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III. Defense is the key to doing so and, through two games, Detroit’s defense is forming its identity.

The Pistons held the Heat to 103 points in a narrow one-point loss on Wednesday and limited the Hornets to 99 points on Friday, one year after the league-wide scoring average was 114 points per game. Still, there’s plenty to clean up, Edwards writes, as the Pistons have committed 39 turnovers in two games.

When you have those kinds of turnover numbers and fouls, you have to do something to offset it,” Pistons coach Monty Williams said. “It was the defense tonight. I mean, (the Hornets) shot 37 percent from the field. You don’t see that much in an NBA game. I thought our physicality had a lot to do with it, guarding the ball had a lot to do with it.

The Pistons have one of the youngest rosters in the league and the oldest player in the starting lineup is 22. Still, they’re buying into the system Williams is setting in place, according to Edwards.

I credit the guys we have, we understand the game more, but Monty coming in, putting in a system that we can follow easily, and the standard he’s set on the defensive end,” center Jalen Duren said. “Everyone is buying into it. We’ve got guys taking that end very seriously. When everyone is buying into that side of the basketball, this is the outcome.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle signed a contract extension with the team on Thursday and he’s looking forward to be around the team for the long haul, Dustin Dopirak of IndyStar writes. “I’m excited to continue the challenge here,” Carlisle said. “It’s really not a day to celebrate. It’s a day to be reminded of the daunting responsibility that me and my staff have to continue to develop this group. We’ve done some pretty good things as an organization the last couple of years and we have to keep pushing forward.
  • The Pacers are deep at the guard positions, leading Carlisle to make some difficult rotation decisions, including leaving T.J. McConnell out of the 10-man rotation, Dopirak details in a separate piece. “It was obviously a tough conversation as a competitor,” McConnell said. “But I’m just here to do my job. Whatever he thinks is best for the team, he’s got to do. I just have to stay ready.
  • The Bulls could benefit from exploring a swap involving Zach LaVine and James Harden, Scoop Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times opines. Chicago is 1-1 after an overtime victory over the Raptors on Friday, which came on the heels of a players-only meeting on Wednesday.

Rick Carlisle Signs Multiyear Extension With Pacers

11:14am: Carlisle’s extension is official, the Pacers announced in a press release.

It goes without saying that Coach Carlisle is one of the most creative and successful coaches in the history of the league, so there was never a question that he continues to be the right person to lead our team,” said president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard. “His ties to this organization and community run deep, his guidance and leadership are invaluable to our players and staff, and we’re looking forward to working together for years to come as we build something special for our fans.”

8:56pm: The Pacers have reached an agreement on a multiyear contract extension with head coach Rick Carlisle, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Carlisle has posted a 60-104 record over the past two seasons after taking over a rebuilding Indiana team in 2021. It marks the second stint with the Pacers for the 63-year-old coach, who also guided the team from 2003-07.

Wojnarowski didn’t reveal any terms of the new contract, but it ensures that Carlisle will get to continue molding a promising collection of young talent. The 2022 trade for Tyrese Haliburton gave Indiana a franchise player to build around, and Myles Turner has become one of the NBA’s most productive centers.

Bennedict Mathurin is coming off a strong rookie year, and players such as Aaron Nesmith, Obi Toppin and Jarace Walker give Indiana a solid young foundation. The offseason signing of Bruce Brown in free agency is an indication that the Pacers want to start contending, and Carlisle provides the experience to guide them in that direction.

Carlisle is one of a handful of active coaches with an NBA title, which he won as head coach of the Mavericks in 2011. He was named Coach of the Year with the Pistons in 2002 and served as the Eastern Conference head coach in the 2004 All-Star Game.

After playing in the NBA for six seasons, Carlisle moved into coaching in 1989 as an assistant with the Nets. He also spent time as an assistant with Portland and Indiana before getting his first head coaching opportunity with Detroit in 2001. He coached the Pistons for two seasons before moving on to the Pacers in 2003 and the Mavericks in 2008. Carlisle has a career record of 897-793.