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Dallas Mavericks: Why Rick Carlisle to the Pacers is becoming more likely

Dallas Mavericks Rick Carlisle Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Mavericks Rick Carlisle Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Mavericks are searching for a head coach and president of basketball operations. Donnie Nelson mutually parted ways with the organization after 24 years. The next day, Rick Carlisle resigned after 13 seasons as head coach in Dallas. The Mavs have two massive holes to fill this offseason.

In his statement to ESPN, Carlisle made it clear that he plans on continuing to coach. His departure from Dallas made it seven head coaching openings in the NBA. The Celtics hired Ime Udoka on Wednesday to fill one of the vacancies. The others are still searching for their next head coach.

With Boston out of the mix, it appears more likely that Carlisle will return to Indiana to coach the Pacers. Here is a closer look at why.

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Former Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle could return to coach Pacers

The veteran head coach wants to go to a winning situation. Carlisle is 61 years old and led the Mavericks to the championship in 2011. He is looking for a playoff team that he can help mold into something more. That eliminates the Orlando Magic, among the current vacancies.

Carlisle is not returning to Dallas, so the remaining teams are the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards, and Indiana Pacers. Portland is on their second round of interviews with zero mention of Carlisle. They just fired his friend and former assistant, Terry Stotts, so it appears unlikely the championship coach would head there. New Orleans is still building and the Wizards have some uncertainty with the future of Bradley Beal.

That leaves just a reunion with the Indiana Pacers. Rick Carlisle was their coach from 2003 to 2007. He led them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004 and the playoffs three times in his four seasons in charge. Carlisle was fired in 2007 after failing to reach the playoffs. He took one season off to do television before joining the Dallas Mavericks in 2008.

The Pacers are an annual playoff team that is looking to take the next step. Domantas Sabonis is a two-time All-Star big man. Indiana has a talented young core around him, including Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, and Myles Turner. Carlisle is known for his in-game adjustments and getting the most out of his teams. The Indiana Pacers would be getting one of the best coaches in the league if they can secure his signature.

What could keep Carlisle out of Indiana? The Milwaukee Bucks faltering against the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals could open up their head coaching job. Carlisle is a rumored candidate and logical fit because of his championship experience. It would be difficult to turn down the opportunity to coach Giannis Antetokounmpo in his prime.

It will be interesting to see where Rick Carlisle lands and who replaces him for the Dallas Mavericks. The offseason is not officially underway and fans have already seen multiple surprising moves. Expect a wild and entertaining summer across the league. Stay tuned for everything on the Mavs at The Smoking Cuban.

Next. Why this is the most important offseason in Mavs history