Pistons fire Carlisle, plan to hire BrownPosted: Saturday May 31, 2003 12:21 PM
Updated: Sunday June 01, 2003 11:45 AM
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Rick Carlisle was fired as coach of the Detroit Pistons on Saturday despite two straight division titles, and a source in the NBA says he will be replaced by Larry Brown.
Brown, a Hall of Famer and one of basketball's most-traveled coaches, will be hired on Monday, the source told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
Carlisle led the Pistons to a 50-win season and a spot in the conference finals for the first time since 1991. Detroit's playoff run ended May 24, when the Pistons were swept by the New Jersey Nets in the Eastern Conference finals.
"It was not an easy decision at all," Joe Dumars, Pistons' president of basketball operations, said during a news conference attended by Carlisle.
When asked about Brown, Dumars said, "We'll be talking to him."
Dumars said that he has heard Brown's name linked to openings in Houston, Cleveland and Washington.
"This is not about Larry Brown; this is about Rick Carlisle," Dumars said.
Carlisle led the Pistons to a 100-64 regular-season record the last two seasons, and Detroit went 12-15 in two playoff runs. He was honored as NBA Coach of the Year for the 2001-02 season.
"The opportunity for me to be here has been a great one," Carlisle said. "These things are never easy, but you make the best of them."
Brown resigned as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday after six seasons. The 76ers released the Hall of Famer from a contractual clause that prohibited him from coaching another NBA team if he left Philadelphia prematurely.
Counting Detroit, there are nine coaching vacancies in the NBA.
The Pistons (50-32) rallied from a 3-1 deficit against Orlando in the first round of the playoffs, becoming just the seventh team in NBA history to advance after such a deficit. Detroit eliminated the 76ers in the second round.
Brown's job with the 76ers was his longest tenure with any team in his 31-year coaching career. He led them to the playoffs five straight seasons, including the 2001 NBA Finals, and will coach the U.S. men's national team this summer at an Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.
Brown had been contemplating stepping down since Philadelphia lost its second-round playoff. The 76ers overcame a mediocre start, won 23 of their final 33 games and finished 48-34. But after beating New Orleans in six games in the first round, the 76ers couldn't get past Detroit.
Carlisle had one year left on his contract. He was hired as Detroit's coach on May 25, 2001, after the team fired George Irvine following a 32-50 season.
Brown is one of basketball's most well-traveled coaches. He has also coached Denver (five years), Indiana (four years), San Antonio (3 1/2 years), New Jersey (two years), Carolina of the ABA (two years) and the Clippers (18 months).
He has a 879-685 record in the NBA, and 1,285-853 overall, including ABA and college. Brown won an NCAA championship with Kansas in 1988, and became the first coach to take six NBA teams to the playoffs when the 76ers made it in 1999.
Although the Pistons were swept in the playoffs, this clearly was a triumphant season for a team without a true superstar. And Carlisle had said it was a record of accomplishment to build on next season.
"We take a lot of positives from this year, but it's a tough disappointment to come up short," Carlisle said after his team was eliminated. "Even though we lose 0-4, it's one of those situations where you're oh so close, but oh so far."
The Pistons were lucky enough to get the No. 2 pick in the June 26 draft thanks to a 6-year-old trade with Memphis for Otis Thorpe.
Detroit most likely will select a potent scorer -- Darko Milicic of Yugoslavia or Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony -- to complement a young nucleus of Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace and rookies Mehmet Okur and Tayshaun Prince.
Hamilton, acquired from Washington in a trade for Jerry Stackhouse last year, is a restricted free agent but is expected to re-sign with the team.
The Pistons finished the season with Billups and Wallace struggling with injuries. And the Nets, led by Jason Kidd, proved too much for Detroit.
"I think everyone is going to evaluate what they did and should
not have done," Billups said at the time. "I am sure it is going
to be a long summer. We accomplished some things this year, but
right now no one is happy about it."