Couple of points. Rick and Kevin are best friends, one was the others best man at his wedding. So certainly Rick will stand up for his friend, and you have to figure that Rick has been told of the behind the scene dealings.

Carlisle criticizes Raptors' officials

By Mark Montieth
April 8, 2004

TORONTO -- Kevin O'Neill's fate as Toronto's coach appears inevitable. His first season will be his last despite the improvement he's brought to the Raptors' record.

With that in mind, Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle took the stand for the defense of his close friend before and after his team's 94-90 victory Wednesday at Air Canada Centre.

Carlisle was critical of the Raptors' front office for, in his opinion, allowing a soap opera of rumors and speculation to overwhelm the team's season.

"This franchise has proven over the last three weeks that they're undeserving of Kevin O'Neill's integrity and convictions in terms of what he stands for as a basketball man," Carlisle said.

"The most disappointing aspect of this situation is how it affects their players. Kevin is a guy who wants to win and is a guy who always puts the players ahead of everything else. When you get in a situation where ego and politics get involved and compromise your ability to win in the midst of a playoff stretch, that's got to send a mixed message to your players, and that's unfortunate."

Carlisle said he believes the turmoil in the Raptors' front office will make it difficult for the ownership to attract people who can improve the situation. General manager Glen Grunwald was fired last week and Jack McCloskey is filling in on an interim basis, so the franchise likely will be looking for a GM and coach this summer.

"There's plenty of good people (to be general manager)," Carlisle said. "A lot of it will depend on how much power that person is going to have. If that person is going to be able to run basketball and have true decision-making power, then it's an attractive job. If it's going to be a political quagmire, then I don't see anybody worth their salt coming in here."

The same goes for the coaching search, according to Carlisle.

"It would be difficult for a top coach to look at this situation and honestly say it would be attractive after what's transpired here the last three weeks," Carlisle said. "It's amazing to me the things that have happened. I'm still dumbfounded by it."