Carlisle won't return as Pacers head coachESPN.com news services

Carlisle won't return as Pacers head coachESPN.com news services

Carlisle won't return as Pacers head coach
ESPN.com news services

Rick Carlisle is stepping down as coach of the Indiana Pacers, team president of basketball operations Larry Bird announced Wednesday.

Bird said he and Carlisle "mutually agreed its time for him to move on ," Bird said. "It's time to close the chapter on this season and move forward. "

Carlisle echoed Bird's comments, saying he will consider an option to return to the team in a front office capacity.

"I think it's time for another voice here," Carlisle said, addressing the media after Bird. "When you know it's time, you know it's time."

Amid a season of distractions, the Pacers finished the season 35-47, their worst since 1988-89, and missed the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. Indiana was 29-24 shortly after the All-Star break, but lost its next 11 games to fall out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference. A loss to Detroit on April 3 clinched the Pacers' first losing season since 1996-97.

"I love coaching and I loved coaching this team this year, even though in terms of wins this was the most difficult season I ever had," Carlisle said.

Carlisle has a 181-147 record in four seasons in Indiana and a 281-211 overall mark in six seasons with the Pacers and Detroit Pistons. But his victory total has declined each season since the Pacers won 61 games in 2003-04.

Carlisle managed to get the Pacers into the playoffs in 2004-05, despite the chaos caused by the team's brawl with Detroit Pistons fans and losing Ron Artest, who touched off the brawl, to a season-long suspension as a result. He also steered the Pacers into the playoffs in 2005-06, when Artest demanded to be traded halfway through the season.

Carlisle was the 2001-02 NBA coach of the year, as the Pistons improved from 32-50 to 50-32 and reached the Eastern Conference finals.

"Rick's contributions to this franchise, first as an assistant coach, then as a head coach, have been tremendous," Bird said in a prepared statement announcing the news. "This is a mutual decision and we're happy that Rick will consider remaining with the franchise."

"My wife, Donna, and I are very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of a great organization like the Indiana Pacers for seven of the last 10 years," Carlisle said in the announcement. "This is a class organization with great leadership and a loyal fan base that's second to none."


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