In 2015, Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson said Rick Carlisle could remain Dallas’ coach as long as he wants. In 2019, the Mavericks gave Carlisle a raise and contract extension through 2023. After Dallas lost in the playoffs this year, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he wasn’t considering a coaching change.
He knew his time was coming.
Trust me: Rick would have loved to have stayed. He knew it was a when, not if. And so he was going to determine when. And it was going to be when he could get a 29 million-dollar deal from somebody else.
He knew he was going to be coaching this season. He did not want to – look, he didn’t want to go into the season on the hot seat, and he would have.
Carlisle didn’t necessarily leave because Nelson was fired. But Nelson’s ouster was connected to greater disarray within the organization.
The Mavericks made a clean sweep, hiring Nico Harrison as general manager and Jason Kidd as coach. It’s reasonable for Carlisle to suspect he would have had little job security with a new GM, who’d want to pick his own coach.
Carlisle hasn’t won a playoff series since Dallas’ 2011 championship. He and franchise player Luka Doncic have had friction. Carlisle reportedly felt threatened by the relationship between assistant coach Jamahl Mosley (now Magic head coach) and Doncic.
On his end, Carlisle seemingly had a chance to take over the Bucks’ championship-caliber roster. But Milwaukee won the championship last season and kept Mike Budenholzer.
So, Carlisle landed back in Indiana, where he’s familiar, on a big new contract. He earned his soft landing through years of coaching success.