According to venerable NY Post NBA columnist Peter Vecsey, the Mavericks and former Indiana Pacers and Detoit Pistons coach Rick Carlisle have agreed to terms. Mavericks officials have been unreachable since Friday afternoon. President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has not returned multiple messages and owner Mark Cuban is not returning email messages. Mavericks sources have not been able confirm the story.
At least one report indicated that Nelson had interviewed Carlisle on Thursday, but without Cuban, who was in Chicago on Wednesday watching the Cubs play from a Tribune Co. box. Cuban remains hot after that franchise which the Tribune Co. is hoping to sell by the end of the year.
Cuban didn't take long to replace Avery Johnson if Vecsey is on the money. Donnie Walsh, who recently took over the Knicks' operation had hired Carlisle in Indiana and some thought he and Carlisle might reunite in the Big Apple, although Mark Jackson has been thought of as the leading candidate for the Knicks position. Carlisle had also reportedly interviewed recently with Walsh.
Carlisle, 49, coached the Pistons from 2001-03, going 100-64 in the regular season and 12-15 in the playoffs. He also was named the 2001-02 NBA Coach of the Year.
After Carlisle was fired by Detroit and replaced by Larry Brown after the 2002-03 season, he was hired by Walsh to take over the Pacers, where he compiled 181-147 in four regular seasons and 18-17 in the playoffs.
His best season in Indianapolis was his first. In 2003-04 the Pacers posted a 61-21 record -- the best mark in franchise history -- and reached the Eastern Conference finals.
Carlisle's reputation is that of a solid, demanding head coach with an emphasis on defense. His rigid style has also been known to grate on players. There was some thought that Carlisle might be too similar to Johnson.
The Mavs also had interest in Jeff Van Gundy, but he is reportedly not interested in coaching next season. That didn't leave many options. It's still believed that Phoenix Suns coach Mike D'Antoni won't be sticking around there and that he's high on the Chicago Bulls vacancy. If Detroit's Flip Saunders or Washington's Eddie Jordan, whose Wizards bowed out of the playoffs Friday night, were to lose their jobs, they'd become instant candidates.
Nelson has talked about patience on this search. We'll see.
-- Jeff Caplan
-- Jeff Caplan