The lone championship coach in the Dallas Mavericks' 32-year history isn't going anywhere. Rick Carlisle has agreed to a four-year contract that will keep him in charge through at least the 2015-16 season.
"I'm very happy for the opportunity to return," Rick Carlisle said during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Galloway & Co." "This wouldn't be possible without great players. Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, (Shawn) Marion, all these guys made this possible, along with (owner) Mark (Cuban) and (president of basketball operations) Donnie (Nelson)."
Carlisle's current four-year contract was set to expire at the end of June despite having guided the Mavs to the 2011 NBA championship, defeating the Miami Heat in his third season with the team. While his Miami counterpart, Erik Spoelstra, was rewarded with an extension prior to the start of this season, Carlisle entered it in a similar situation to half of his roster, with no assurances beyond this season.
Throughout the season, owner Mark Cuban stuck to his stated policy of not extending contracts of players or coaches.
"We are excited that Rick will be back with the Mavericks for at least the next four years," Cuban said in a statement. "He is a proven winner, a great teacher and a coach that will help the Mavericks improve as a team and as an organization."
Any speculation that Carlisle wanted to test free agency, perhaps eyeing a return to the Portland Trail Blazers where he once served as an assistant, was put to rest Tuesday. The new four-year deal comes five months after Carlisle, 198-114 with Dallas, raised the championship banner to the American Airlines Center rafters and less than two weeks since the reigning champs were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After the series, both Cuban and Carlisle refused to talk about the contract status. After a difficult 36-30 season in which Cuban did not bring back the title team intact, the silence added a level of confusion as to the direction both parties were seeking.
"These things, they take time," Carlisle said, "and it's a very big commitment both ways and we had a lot of great conversations during the season and after the season... I'm very grateful and looking forward to the challenge."
In 10 seasons as a head coach, Carlisle is 479-325 (.596). He spent two seasons with the Detroit Pistons and then four with the Indiana Pacers, guiding both franchises to the Eastern Conference finals. He was named 2001-02 NBA Coach of the Year after his first season with the Pistons. Carlisle became just the 11th person in NBA history to win a championship as a player and as a coach.
The Mavs now become the longest stop of his career. If he finishes out his new four-year contract, he will pass both Dick Motta and Don Nelson for the longest coaching run in one stint in Mavs history.
Motta coached the team in its first seven seasons of existence, from 1980-87, and returned for two more seasons from 1994-96. Nelson took over as coach in 1997 and stepped down with 18 games left in the 2004-05 season, his eighth.
Carlisle's job heading into the 2012-13 season might be his most difficult in Dallas. The Mavs have cap space for the first time in Cuban's dozen years as owner and will look to make a splash by signing a heralded free agent. Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams tops the list.
The Mavs, broken up after the title by Cuban to position the team to have cap space this summer, could look drastically different than even the altered defending champion squad. Kidd and Terry are among six free agents that also include Delonte West and Ian Mahinmi. Brendan Haywood and Shawn Marion are both candidates for the amnesty clause.
"It's a lot of work going forward because there's going to be a lot of big decisions that have to be made," Carlisle said. "We've got younger players we've got to continue to get better. There are some unknowns, which to me make it exciting and I want to be here, so I'm glad it worked out."