After 13 seasons at the helm, Rick Carlisle informed ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that he won’t return to coach the team in 2021. Two years remain on Carlisle’s contract. He steps down as the winningest coach in team history with a 555-478 regular season record and one title on his résumé.
Rick Carlisle — who led Dallas to the 2011 NBA championship — informed Mavericks owner Mark Cuban today that he won't be returning as coach next season, Carlisle told ESPN. Carlisle had two years left on his contract. He spent 13 seasons as Mavericks coach.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 17, 2021
Carlisle is the second influential figure to leave the Mavericks in the past 48 hours. On Wednesday, the team announced that it parted ways with General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson, who spent 24 seasons with the organization. Carlisle and Nelson piloted Dallas to an upset over the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.
“After a number of in-person conversations with Mark Cuban over the last week, today I informed him that I will not be returning as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks,” Carlisle revealed in a written statement to ESPN. “This was solely my decision. My family and I have had an amazing 13-year experience working with great people in a great city.”
“It has been an honor to work alongside Mark, Cynt [Marshall], Donnie, Fin [Michael Finley], Keith [Grant], Dirk [Nowitzki], JKidd [Jason Kidd] and every player and assistant coach I’ve had here,” Carlisle continued. “Dallas will always be home, but I am excited about the next chapter of my coaching career.”
Carlisle and Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić led the Mavericks to a 42-30 record this season, putting them fifth in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, after taking a 2-0 lead against the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs, Dallas lost four of the next five games and got eliminated in the first round by Kawhi Leonard for the second time in 11 months.
“I truly love Rick Carlisle. He was not only a good coach but also a friend and a confidant,” Cuban told ESPN. “Our relationship was so much more than basketball. And I know that won’t ever change.”
Cuban previously informed reporters that he wouldn’t fire Carlisle during the offseason.
“Let me tell you how I look at coaching,” Cuban told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon after the Mavericks lost to Los Angeles. “You don’t make a change to make a change. Unless you have someone that you know is much, much, much better, the grass is rarely greener on the other side.”
Before joining Dallas, Carlisle coached the Pistons for two seasons and the Pacers for four. He’s 836-689 in the regular season and 63-70 in the playoffs. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers are the only active coaches with more career regular season wins than Carlisle, who has the 15th most in NBA history.
Carlisle leaving the Mavericks continues an astonishing trend in recent weeks. There are seven vacant head coaching positions in the NBA. Scott Brooks and Stan Van Gundy agreed to part ways with their respective teams on Wednesday. Before resigning, Carlisle was the third-longest tenured NBA coach, trailing Popovich and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra.
The Mavericks might have Carlisle’s replacement on their staff. Dončić, who is eligible for a max rookie extension this summer, believes Mavericks assistant coach Jamahl Mosley has “the things that are needed for a head coach.” Tension built between Carlisle and Dončić during the 2020 season. Finding the right coach should keep the 22-year-old in Dallas long-term.
As for Carlisle, he moves to the front of the line for many of the NBA’s open coaching positions. The 61-year-old could pursue one of the current vacancies or wait and see if better spots open up as the playoffs wind down.