Carlisle is currently on his second tour of duty with the Blue and Gold.
In Carlisle’s first season as Pacers head coach in the 2003-04 campaign, he guided Indiana to a gaudy 61-21 win-loss record – the best in the squad’s NBA history.
Carlisle also called the shots during the infamous “Malice at the Palace” fiasco featuring Ron Artest and Ben Wallace in 2004.
Since then, the best Carlisle could muster as Pacers head coach was 44 victories in 2004-05.
He certainly didn’t expect to coach a 25-win team when he returned to the Hoosier State some sixteen years later.
Let’s delve deeper into the pros and cons of Carlisle as Pacers head coach.
Pro: Carlisle Has A Good Track Record
Carlisle is entering his 21st season as an NBA head coach.
He has a career 861-746 (.536) win-loss record.
Let’s not forget Carlisle led the Dallas Mavericks to their first and only NBA title in 2011.
If Carlisle has the right players, he knows what to do with them.
"Rick Carlisle is involved in everything [with the Pacers]. He has more influence, from what I've seen and heard, than any other coach I've covered…Carlisle is involved in every single thing." (via @ScottAgness on @FieldhouseFiles) pic.twitter.com/6szWowcBHd
— The Trade Deadline (@_TradeDeadline) February 10, 2022
However, he had to lead a young, inexperienced Pacers squad that resembled an NBA G League team in 2021-22.
Long story short, fate dealt Carlisle a bad hand when he returned to Indiana.
Despite the Pacers’ misfortunes in 2021-22, there was no dissension within the ranks.
It’s a stark contrast to the never-ending drama when Nate Bjorkgren called the shots a season earlier.
If the Pacers remain healthy and add a few key pieces to the roster, they should rise from the ashes in 2022-23.
Pro: Rick Carlisle Is Not Afraid of A Rebuild
Carlisle has made it clear he is not afraid of a rebuild.
That’s precisely the situation the Pacers are in right now.
After practice today, Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle had an opening statement that lasted 7:25 where he said 1) he’s here to coach and 2) is not afraid to be part of a rebuild.
Full comments + context soon.
— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) April 7, 2022
The Pacers have shied away from building the team from the ground up over the years.
That’s never been their style.
However, with a 25-win effort in 2021-22 – the franchise’s lowest win total since the 1984-85 NBA season – there’s no denying Indy is in rebuild mode.
The Pacers aren’t going to flip the switch and become winners overnight.
Carlisle’s long-term commitment and patience bode well for a team looking to turn the corner in the 2022-23 NBA season.
Con: Carlisle Could Wear Out His Welcome With The Fans
It’s only natural for a fan base to clamor for a winner right away.
However, it bears repeating: this Pacers team won’t become world beaters overnight.
Carlisle knows that.
He understands that.
He’s been around basketball-savvy Hoosiers long enough to know he could wear out his welcome in Indiana.
Carlisle has been around long enough.
He can tune out the noise and focus on the task at hand: turning the Pacers into winners once again.
Verdict: Carlisle Is The Right Leader For The Pacers
Carlisle is the right leader at the right time for the Pacers.
Sometimes, you have to take a step backward so you can take two steps forward.
Carlisle has been in that situation many times during his 20-year NBA head coaching career.
Expect him to take a young Pacers squad to the next level one step at a time.