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Rumor: Pacers could hire Rick Carlisle as coach

Former Pacers coach Rick Carlisle

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 23: Rick Carlisle the Head Coach of the Indiana Pacerss gives instructions to his team during the NBA game against the Houston Rockets on January23, 2004 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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When Rick Carlisle resigned as Mavericks coach, he wrote, “I am excited about the next chapter of my coaching career.”

He had already been linked to the Bucks. But with Milwaukee in the Eastern Conferences finals, Mike Budenholzer appears less likely to get fired. At least unless the Bucks get upset by the inexperienced Hawks.

So, where will Carlisle land?

Tim MacMahon:

I’ve heard this from like four different places. Nobody directly involved, and nobody who is – not Rick or anybody especially close to Rick. But there is a lot of smoke about a potential Rick Carlisle reunion with the Pacers.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Pacers are clearly prioritizing a former NBA head coach after the disastrous tenure of Nate Bjorkgren, a rookie NBA head coach.

Terry Stotts (Hawks, Bucks and Trail Blazers), Steve Clifford (Hornets and Magic) and Brian Shaw (Nuggets) have that experience. Stotts was mostly successful in Portland. Clifford had ups and downs in Charlotte and Orlando. Shaw… Indiana would have to be convinced he wouldn’t repeat his Denver tenure.

Carlisle is one of the NBA’s top coaches – as he showed with the Pacers from 2003-07. He guided Indiana to the playoffs in three of four years, including a trip to the 2004 Eastern Conference finals, where the Pacers pushed the eventual-champion Pistons harder than anyone else did. That run with Indiana, undermined by the Malice at The Palace, came between successful stints with Detroit and Dallas.

Carlisle might be tough on Pacers players, who have met two straight coaches with resistance (previously Nate McMillan). But Carlisle carries more credibility than Bjorkgren after accomplishing so much.

Indiana would do well to lure back Carlisle.