Rick Carlisle, coach of the Detroit Pistons told ESPN he was fired yesterday. The Pistons are denying it but there’s a press conference Monday so I’m kind of guessing it’s true. In my opinion, this is an incredibly foolish move. Carlisle won Coach of the Year last year and deserved it. The Pistons have the #2 draft pick this year, and Carlisle should have gotten a chance to work with whoever they pick. Sure, they got swept by the Nets in the playoffs this year and were somewhat embarassed by the Celtics last year, but the Celtics and the Nets are currently the scariest teams in the Eastern Conference. (Yes, I mean it; the Nets own the Celtics but it’d be silly to ignore what the Celtics have done to Indiana, Detroit, and Philly in the playoffs the last couple of years.)
The thing that really kills me, though, is that Jim O’Brien just signed a two year contract extension, so he’ll be coaching the Celtics through 2006. I think he’s a good coach, and he has the trust of his players, but his weakness is certainly offense — which is Carlisle’s strength. In fact, when Larry Bird was coaching Indiana, Carlisle was the offensive coach and Dick Harter was the defensive coach, a combination which came pretty close to a title. And hey! Dick Harter is currently the defensive coach of the Celtics.
What’s more, Carlisle was a teammate of Danny Ainge, the current Celtics GM. They got along; there’s a good chance that Ainge could have tempted Carlisle over to the Celtics. So speculation about what Carlisle might have done as Celtics coach is not as futile as (say) speculating on the chances that Jason Kidd might want to play for them for the veteran minimum.
Alas, they resigned O’Brien, which struck me as a good move at the time. How could anyone have known the Pistons would be stupid enough to fire Carlisle? Now he’ll probably wind up with Indiana as soon as the Pacers get around to sacking Isaiah.