Rick Carlisle is an intriguing option for Celtics coach search after parting ways with Dallas

The Boston Celtics are in the midst of searching for a new head coach to replace Brad Stevens and a new intriguing candidate just became available on Thursday afternoon.

One-time Celtic Rick Carlisle told Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that he wouldn’t be returning to the team next season, according to a team statement. Carlisle had spent 13 years as a head coach in Dallas, leading the Mavericks to an NBA title win in 2011.

His departure comes on the heels of general manager Donnie Nelson parting ways with the team earlier this week after spending 24 years in the position.

“After a number of in-person conversations with [owner] Mark Cuban over the last week, today I informed him that I will not be returning as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. This was solely my decision,” Carlisle said in a statement to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “My family and I have had an amazing 13-year experience working with great people in a great city. I’m excited about the next chapter of my coaching career.”

Carlisle immediately becomes one of the top coaching free agents on the open market as a flurry of jobs opened up around the league over the past week. Currently, seven of 30 NBA franchises are searching for new head coaches after Carlisle parted ways with Dallas. Stan Van Gundy (New Orleans) and Scott Brooks (Washington) were also let go earlier this week, adding to the list of previous openings in Boston, Indiana, Orlando and Portland.

How will all of these developments impact the Celtics during their coaching search? A couple of thoughts on changing market and Carlisle.

1. Carlisle deserves a long look as a candidate for the Celtics job: Carlisle is one of 14 individuals to win an NBA title as both a head coach and a player (while in Boston) and he ranks 15th in the NBA’s all-time win list for head coaches with 836 overall during his stints in Dallas, Indiana and Detroit. Carlisle also led one of the best offenses in the NBA this year with Luka Doncic and a lackluster supporting cast, nearly pulling off a first-round upset against the heavily favored Los Angeles Clippers. The 61-year-old has indicated that his coaching career is not done so it’s fair to assume he will be heavily pursued in some of these openings if he decides not to take a year off. His lengthy track record and ties to the franchise as a player would make him a potential strong fit in Boston.

With that said, Carlisle hasn’t seen much postseason success since the Mavericks won a title in 2011. Dallas has not made it out of the first round since then and missed the playoffs entirely in three of the team’s past five seasons. With reports of Carlisle’s controlling personality clashing with key players during his tenure (Rajon Rondo, Luka Doncic), the Celtics may opt for a fresher face that could build better chemistry with their stars. It will be an intriguing choice for Brad Stevens to tackle as he evaluates a coach in Carlisle who is highly respected in league circles with the type of personality he thinks is best for this roster.

2. How will the additional openings impact the Celtics hiring timeline? Even if the Celtics decide to pass on Carlisle, they will likely be battling for some of the same names as other teams with coach openings. While Boston is an attractive destination for most, the ability to coach Luka Doncic in Dallas or Zion Williamson in New Orleans may cause some potential Boston head coaching options to think twice before waiting around for a Boston offer if the Celtics take a long time with their search and interview process. Other teams moving quickly with their preferred hires could impact Boston’s timeline.

There’s also the possibility that other appealing openings surface across the league in the coming days (Mike Budenholtzer is rumored to be on thin ice in Milwaukee if his team loses to the Nets). The Celtics will want to be thorough with their process but it’s no longer a guarantee that they will be viewed as the best available open position by all potential options. For that reason, it’s important for them to zero in on their best possible candidate sooner rather than later.