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Carlisle steps down as exec VP of Pacers
By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer
Jun 12, 2007 - 11:52:23 AM

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INDIANAPOLIS - Rick Carlisle told the Indiana Pacers he will not return as the team's executive vice president.

Carlisle was fired in April after four tumultuous years as Indiana's coach. The team offered him the option of returning as vice president, a title he was given as part of a new multiyear deal before this season.

Carlisle said in a statement Tuesday it would be "better for both the Pacers and myself to part ways at this time." He said he told Pacers chief executive Donnie Walsh and president Larry Bird about the decision Friday.

Carlisle told The Associated Press on Monday night that working in television, coaching or taking time off are all immediate possibilities for him. He has worked with ESPN and ABC during the playoffs and said he will continue through the rest of the NBA finals.

Walsh would not say how the team and Carlisle dealt with the remaining time on the contract.

"I just wish him well," Walsh said.

The Pacers finished this season 35-47, their worst since 1988-89, and missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Indiana was 29-24 shortly after the All-Star break, but lost its next 11 games to fall out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference.

The day he was fired, Carlisle said he enjoyed coaching the team but understood it was time for the Pacers to hear a "new voice."

Carlisle had a 181-147 record during his four seasons, but his stay was marked less about wins and losses than his struggle to manage talented but volatile players. Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson were the two most prominent players in the 2004 brawl between Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans. That fight started the unraveling of a team that had the potential to make several title runs.

In the Pacers' first year under Carlisle in 2003-04, they went 61-21 for the best record in the NBA, and the club reached the Eastern Conference finals. But the Pacers lost more games each of the next three seasons.

Copyright 2007 - MOP Squad Sports

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