Pacers lock up Carlisle with multiyear extension

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle signed a multiyear contract extension Thursday and added a new title as executive vice president of basketball operations.

The new position puts him directly below CEO Donnie Walsh and
president Larry Bird and gives him more clout in disciplinary

"It lets the players know that there's a front-office position
associated with the head coach," Walsh said. "He's not just
hanging around. He's part of what we do up here."

Terms were not disclosed Thursday.

"I was confident that we'd come to some kind of an agreement,"
said Carlisle, who has a 146-100 record going into his fourth
season with the Pacers. "Things worked out well. I think it shows
we've got a common vision for the team, not only this year but for
the future of the franchise."

Carlisle was heading into the final year of his deal, and it
wasn't clear going into the offseason whether the team would offer
an extension.

The Pacers are coming off a disappointing, injury-plagued 41-41
season that ended with a first-round playoff exit.

Bird said in May that Carlisle needed to instill more discipline
and get more out of his players. Carlisle was a Boston Celtics
teammate of Bird and was an assistant coach in 1997-2000 with the
Pacers under Bird, who soon after becoming the Pacers president in
2003 fired Isiah Thomas and installed Carlisle as head coach.

The Pacers have reached the playoffs in each of Carlisle's three
seasons, but he also faced the turmoil that surrounded Ron Artest.
Two seasons ago, it was Artest's brawl with Pistons fans in Auburn
Hills. Artest was then suspended last season after his trade
request, which was eventually granted, effectively ended the team's
title hopes.

Carlisle met recently with veteran centerpieces Jermaine O'Neal
and Stephen Jackson and told them he wouldn't sign an extension
unless they agreed he was the right person for the job. Both gave
their approval.

"I'm happy for him," Jackson said. "I think it's something
that he definitely deserves. He's put up with a lot the last two
years and he's shown a lot of poise and a lot of control and
confidence. A lot of coaches would have blown up, like the team
did, but he stayed in there with us and he was behind us the whole

Bird said Thursday the sub-par records the past two years
weren't Carlisle's fault. He added that Carlisle went 61-21 in his
first year when the team was mostly healthy.

"Last season, there were a lot of injuries and people at the
start of the season wanting to be traded," Bird said. "That has
nothing to do with Rick. It's just that he [Artest] didn't like it
here, and there's nothing we can do about injuries.

"I think he deserves a fair chance."

Carlisle now can look forward to being a part of what Walsh has
called a restoration project. He's happy to see 12 new players in
training camp.

"It's significant because it symbolizes a different direction
of sorts," Carlisle said. "It's all in line with what myself and
Larry and Donnie see as the right way to go."