Carlisle announced he is stepping down as Mavericks coach on Thursday, opening up an attractive job with a young superstar that will be very closely watched. However, it also means that someone will have the opportunity to hire one of the league’s most experienced head coaches in Carlisle, who has an NBA title on his resume.
Apparently, the speculation had already begun even before Carlisle announced his exit. According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, there have been “rumblings” for weeks linking Carlisle to the Milwaukee Bucks if the team decides to make a change.
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.
Rumblings about Milwaukee as a destination — IF the Bucks make a change — have been circulating for weeks.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 17, 2021
The Bucks are facing an elimination game Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets, and a loss could seal Mike Budenholzer’s fate. Despite three successful seasons, including two as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Budenholzer has led the Bucks to the Eastern Conference Finals only once. A defeat on Thursday would mark the second consecutive season the Bucks have been eliminated in the second round. The team has been built to win now, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in their primes and lots of money and future assets spent to acquire Jrue Holiday.
Rumors about Budenholzer being on the hot seat have persisted for a while, and have only grown louder during the team’s series against the Nets. Blowing a 16-point third-quarter lead in Game 5 may end up being the last straw unless the Bucks can win two in a row. That may open the door for Carlisle, who would be an ideal replacement in such a win-now environment.