Rick Carlisle's message to the NBA: 'I’m here to coach this team'
After practice on Thursday, the Pacers head coach opened up with comments to squash league-wide conversations that he would take on a front-office role.
Thursday wasn’t just another Pacers practice. Although it was rare to have a second one in a week so late into an NBA season.
It was a special day for both undrafted rookies Duane Washington Jr. and Terry Taylor because after being on two-way deals, they both signed a standard NBA contract for the first time.
It was a special day for both Gabe York and Nate Hinton because they both signed two-way contracts and may play this weekend in the Pacers’ final two games. For York, who is 28 and was the No. 3 pick in the G League draft, it would be his first NBA minutes.
This practice stood out because when Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle arrived for his post-practice comments, he had something else on his mind. Then he proceeded to talk for seven minutes and 25 seconds before taking questions.
During that time, he reiterated several times that 1) he returned to the Pacers to coach and 2) is not afraid to be part of a rebuild — all while expressing his optimism for the Pacers’ future after a cloudy season.
So what is this all about? And why now? Here are Carlisle’s comments and then I’ll explain the context.
Before we take any questions, I want to talk about something, a rumor, that’s just persisted for a number of months. I had Bob Kravitz in my office back in late November or early December, and he asked me a question about going to the front office and going into management and working on the personnel side or something like that. I said, ‘No, that’s just not true.’ I asked him where he heard it and he said, ‘Eh, it’s just something I’ve heard.’ I’ve had a few other people ask me this question throughout the year and I’ve always said no.
I came here to coach. I came here to work with Kevin Pritchard, for Kevin Pritchard and work with his team. And it’s a great team. It’s Kevin, it’s (GM) Chad Buchanan, (assistant GM) Kelly Krauskopf and (VP) Ted (Wu).
I just want to be completely clear on this: I don’t know what the assumptions are that people are making about this, why this would be the case. When I came here, we had hoped to have a really good season this year. We had some struggles early and it morphed into a change in direction. But that’s OK. It has not quelled my enthusiasm for being back with the Indiana Pacers or taking on this challenge one single bit.