Carlisle: Once a Cav, now a Mav

After a week of negotiations, UVA alum Rick Carlisle reached a deal over the weekend to become the new head coach of the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. Carlisle inked a four-year deal with the Mavs for a reported $17.5 million. The Mavericks will introduce Carlisle to the media at a press conference tomorrow.

Known for his playmaking ability and tenacious play, Carlisle was the on-court general for the 1984 Cavaliers squad that made it to the Final Four, the year after three-time Player of the Year Ralph Sampson graduated. That basketball intelligence allowed Carlisle to transition from a playing career with the Boston Celtics to the sidelines as a coach. Following a successful tenure as assistant to former Celtics teammate Larry Bird on the Indiana Pacers' bench, Carlisle took over a struggling Detroit Pistons team in 2001.

The young coach built the team into a perennial playoff contender, and Carlisle was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2002. Still, frustrated by Carlisle's failure to take the Pistons to the NBA finals, management fired him. The Pistons won a championship the following season under Hall of Fame head coach Larry Brown.

But Carlisle didn't stay unemployed for long: he returned to the Indiana Pacers as head coach only weeks after his ouster in Detroit. Despite the fact that he took the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals, winning wasn't the most memorable aspect of Carlisle's tenure in Indianapolis. On November 19, 2004, in a game against his former team, Piston Ben Wallace shoved Pacer Ron Artest, leading to an on-and-off-court brawl in which Artest charged into the stands to attack a fan who had thrown his drink at the 6' 7", 250-pound forward.

The NBA suspended five of Carlisle's players for a combined 137 games, including a record 86-game suspension for Artest. In the years following the incident, the Pacers never made it out of the second round of the playoffs, and Carlisle was again without a job in April 2007.

Carlisle takes over a Mavericks team that made it to the NBA Finals in 2006 but has since underachieved. Following two consecutive first-round exits from the playoffs, the Mavericks fired head coach Avery Johnson on April 30.

The hire means that there are now two Cavaliers in the NBA's Southwest Division. Marc Iavaroni (Class of 1978) leads the Memphis Grizzlies.

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