At the stroke of midnight Wednesday in Greece, Rick Carlisle’s agent received the contract from the Dallas Mavericks and began to give it a moon-lit combing.
As long as no last-minute snags disrupted the weeklong negotiation, the Mavs will introduce the defensive-minded Carlisle on Friday as the franchise’s ninth head coach.
“We’re still moving forward,” Carlisle's agent, Warren LeGarie, said Wednesday at 4 p.m. CDT, just as he received the contract overseas.
The deal is believed to be for four years. Financial terms were not immediately known.
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Carlisle, 48, would begin his third coaching stint in the NBA and first in the tough Western Conference. In two seasons in charge of the Detroit Pistons and four leading the Indiana Pacers, Carlisle guided each to an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.
He was the only candidate known to have interviewed with Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and owner Mark Cuban.
Nelson did not return phone calls Wednesday, but a source said the team is planning a Friday news conference, assuming both sides sign off on the deal today.
The Mavs desired a head coach with a sound defensive structure and a creative offensive mind. Carlisle’s previous teams played with hard-nosed defensive resolve, but his offensive creativeness, not necessarily lauded at either stop, will be judged by how well he caters to point guard Jason Kidd’s playmaking style along with the wishes of Dirk Nowitzki, who has stated his desire for a looser, more freewheeling offensive scheme.
Carlisle, 281-211 overall and 30-32 in the playoffs, inherits a team that is coming off consecutive first-round defeats since its disappointing elimination from the 2006 NBA Finals.
The Mavs have just eight players under contract for next season — Nowitzki, Kidd, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, Erick Dampier, Jerry Stackhouse, Brandon Bass and Eddie Jones — so Carlisle, Nelson and Cuban have work to do, with little financial flexibility, to fill the seven remaining roster spots.
It’s not known if Carlisle would retain any of Johnson’s staff — Paul Westphal, Joe Prunty and Mario Elie — which is under contract through next season.
Carlisle won Coach of the Year in 2001-02, his first season in Detroit, but Pistons general manager Joe Dumars fired him after a second 50-win season and replaced him with Larry Brown.
Carlisle then won a franchise-record 61 games in his first season at Indiana, but the team’s win totals dwindled to 44, 41 and 35.