Pacers begin pursuit of Carlisle as coach

Updated: August 28, 2003, 9:03 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers officially began their pursuit of Rick Carlisle on Thursday but did not expect to sign him as the new coach until early next week.

Carlisle, a former Pacers assistant and the head coach at Detroit the past two years, became available when he was fired by the Pistons in May.

He was the first choice for the Pacers after new team president Larry Bird, Carlisle's Boston Celtics teammate and his boss when Bird was the Pacers' coach, fired Isiah Thomas on Wednesday.

Bird said meetings with Carlisle were progressing, but an announcement would be unlikely before next week.

"We've been talking a lot," Bird said as he drove away from Conseco Fieldhouse. "It's going pretty good, I guess."

Carlisle was in Indianapolis to meet with Bird and Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh.

"It went pretty well," Carlisle said as he left the fieldhouse in a vehicle behind Bird's.

Pacers forward Ron Artest, who came in a trade with Chicago during Thomas' second year as coach, said he wasn't surprised by the coaching change.

"It happens like that," Artest said. "To me, it's not hard to adjust to a new coach. Basketball is all basic, with the exception of a certain play coaches want to run, but as long as you know how to play basketball, you'll be fine."

Carlisle was a candidate for the Pacers' job three years ago, after Bird took the team to the 2000 NBA Finals and then resigned, making good on his intention to step down after three years as coach. The job went to Thomas.

The Pacers were 131-115 and were eliminated in the first round of playoffs each of the three years under Thomas.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index