The search has just begun, and Jim Carey (I mean Rick Carlisle) could be the answer to all the that woes the Thunder. At the conclusion of the playoffs, he will have one year remaining on his contract that pays him $4.6 million a year.
Carlisle has enjoyed immense success throughout stops in Detroit, Indiana, and most recently Dallas, where he won a championship in 2011.
Carlisle continues to take a hodge-podge of talent and put them in position to be competitive in the ridiculously difficult Western Conference. One has to wonder what a coach like Carlisle could do with a core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. If the Rockets win one more game, and Mark Cuban decides it is time to take his waning team in a new direction, we might just get to find out. He would definitely top my list.
Detroit Pistons 2001-2003
Carlisle coached 164 games for the Pistons, which resulted in 100 wins, giving him a .610 winning percentage. He was named the 2001-2002 NBA Coach of the year. Things didn't necessarily end well during his tenure in Motor City, as Carlisle was replaced by Larry Brown the summer after Carlisle led his Pistons team to a 50-32 record and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Indiana Pacers 2003-2007
Carlisle coached the Pacers in 328 games, amassing a record of 181 wins and 147 losses for a .552 winning percentage. In his first season with the Pacers, he finished with 61-21 record and playoff series wins against the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat before losing to the eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons in 2004, coached by the man who replaced him, Larry Brown.
Dallas Mavericks 2008 to Present
The obvious highlight of this stop is the 2011 NBA Championship, where the Mavericks entered the NBA Finals as major underdogs to the trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Mavericks found themselves down 2-1 before winning three straight, which included a game six win in Miami. Carlisle has a .606 winning percentage with the Mavericks.
WHY MIGHT CARLISLE CONSIDER THE THUNDER?
Donnie Nelson hasn't exactly surrounded Dirk Nowitzki with elite talent, and the Mavericks have failed to attract elite level free agents.The window in Dallas has all but closed, and Dallas appears to be trending downward in the Western Conference. I fully expect the Thunder to rebound next year and end up near or at the top of the Western Conference. I also anticipate the Pelicans taking the next step. The Jazz should be better, and the Lakers can't stink forever. This leads to the conclusion that the playoffs might soon be out of reach for the Mavericks.
All of this might be a pipe dream and guy like Alvin Gentry or Billy Donovan might be the next Thunder coach. Also, since Carlisle has a year remaining on his contract, it would cost the Thunder something to acquire him, and Dallas may be hungry for draft picks. Never the less, It wouldn't upset me in the least however to see Carlisle make the drive north up I-35 and become the next coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Thanks for the opportunity to write for Welcome to Loud City. My name is Donnie Hazlewood and I have basically lived in Oklahoma my entire life. I had a brief stint in Texas, but came back to the state as soon as possible. I currently write for Crimson and Cream Machine (the Oklahoma Sooners SBNation website). I follow the Thunder to the point where it's been called by many an obsession. When not working the job the pays the bills or passionately following the Thunder and Sooners, I love spending time with my wife (Kari Ann). We are expecting our first child in September.