The Indiana Pacers have brought back a familiar face to lead their team next season (and they hope for many more) as Rick Carlisle is returning to the bench in Indianapolis after resigning from the Mavs earlier this month. Carlisle is one of the most well-respected coaches in the league, although he hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with some players — this is the reported reason he left Dallas is a rocky relationship with his young star in Luka Doncic.
Still, he brings a resume that allows him to command respect immediately, and after the Pacers had a rather disastrous season in Nate Bjorkgren’s lone year at the helm before he was fired for losing the locker room before he ever got a hold of it, Carlisle brings a welcome sense of stability. The Pacers greatest player in franchise history is particularly excited about the hire, as Reggie Miller played for Carlisle when he was both an assistant in Indiana in the late 90s and the head coach from 2003-07.
Miller feels the hire is great news for the franchise, but also had a message to the team’s players that there are no more excuses for underperforming beyond themselves after they “ran off” Nate McMillan who has the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals and then Bjorkgren after one season.
Pacers legend and @NBAonTNT analyst Reggie Miller called it “a sunny day in Indiana to get coach Carlisle back.”
But sent a message to Pacers players as well to “look in the mirror.” pic.twitter.com/PhGf3cvNex
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) June 24, 2021
Miller isn’t wrong here. The Pacers will absolutely be in put up or shut up mode next season after a very strange 2020-21 season that saw them deal with injuries and illnesses that never let them find a rhythm beyond the first couple weeks of the year. There’s talent on the roster but the question for some time in Indiana is how that talent fits, namely Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner (the latter of whom seems to be perpetually on the trade block), and what their true ceiling is. With Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, and hopefully a healthy TJ Warren, next season figures to be another playoff run for Indiana, but another stumble like this past season or another first round exit as had become the norm might lead to some serious roster changes, because they know they have a coach with a strong pedigree now.