Pacers lock up Carlisle with multiyear extension

Updated: October 5, 2006, 6:50 PM ET
Associated Press

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

Pacers under Carlisle
Year Record Playoffs
'05-06 41-41 first round
'04-05 44-38 second round
'03-04 61-21 East finals

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

"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 way."

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."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press