Basketball game? What basketball game? Haven’t you heard? The hottest thing in NBA gossip has, funnily enough, snagged your Milwaukee Bucks. From Marc Stein of the New York Times:
Carlisle had two years left on his contract in Dallas, but there are five other coaching openings in the NBA and possibly more forthcoming. He'll easily land another job.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 17, 2021
Rumblings about Milwaukee as a destination -- IF the Bucks make a change -- have been circulating for weeks.
A couple of things to note here: first, Mike Budenholzer is still gainfully employed as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Second, Rick Carlisle is leaving a lot of money and an emerging superstar behind in Dallas, so he’s likely quite confident about a new job somewhere. Third, Stein originally hailed from Dallas prior to his time at ESPN and the Times, so he’s likely at least somewhat-connected to the Carlisle camp (if there is such a camp).
Carlisle, who first broke into head coaching back in 2001 with the Detroit Pistons, has a career record of 836-689 (good for a .548 winning percentage). He’s been in Dallas since the 2008-2009 season, memorably triumped in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Heatles 1.0, and has made the playoffs nine times out of the last 13 years. Outside of that Finals run, his teams have generally struggled to get past the first round, though some of the rosters Dallas has fielded prior to the arrival of Luka Doncic have been… poor, to put it mildly.
While it seems that Bucks fans are the ones who are ogling any coaching candidate who comes through, observant ones will also recall that Rick Carlisle has wandering eyes of his own.
[Josh] Oppenheimer: We go to Tim Grgurich’s camp in Las Vegas. … We would go to the far basket every morning, and every morning Rick Carlisle would come and watch. It was just me and Giannis and we’d work on some stuff. Rick asked me, “Can I help? Can I talk to Giannis?” I was like, “Of course! You’re Rick Carlisle! Do what you want to do.” So Rick would work with him a little bit. Second day, same thing happened. Third day, same thing happened. Fourth day, we’re walking into the gym and Giannis goes, “Coach, let’s go to a different basket.” I said, “Why?” And he said, “That man is there again. I just want to work with you, coach, and every day, that man, he stops and talks to me. I like him, but I don’t want some man working with me.” I go, “Some man, Giannis?? That’s Rick Carlisle!” And he goes, “But who is Rick Carlisle?”
Nothing is set in stone, as the Bucks could somehow string together a pair of wins and find themselves yet again in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, for those concerned about where the organization goes from here if, indeed, Budenholzer’s run in Milwaukee is on its last legs, take heart that the team is feeling frisky, and apparently the feeling is mutual, fans and all.