AUBURN HILLS, MICH. Rick Carlisle sat elbow-to-elbow with the man who had just fired him, Joe Dumars. In a bizarre scene, talk turned to Larry Brown, who will become Detroit's next coach.
"If you think he's going to bring in a stiff behind me, you're nuts," Carlisle said Saturday. "He's going to bring in a big-time guy, and if he can do that he will have done his job."
Carlisle was fired with one year and $2 million left on his contract despite winning two straight division titles, 100 regular-season games, a Coach of the Year award and leading the Pistons to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1991.
He will be replaced by Brown, who already has reached an agreement with the Pistons on a long-term deal, according to a source within the league with knowledge of the discussions between the Pistons and Brown. The source spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, saying the hiring will become official Monday.
Saturday's news conference was strange -- Carlisle poking fun at himself during an opening statement, then initiating jokes and defending the decision when Dumars was pressed to explain the dismissal.
"The guy at the gate almost wouldn't let me in to my own firing," Carlisle said.
Brown, a former Kansas University coach, resigned Monday as coach of Philadelphia after six seasons. The 76ers released him from a contractual clause that prohibited him from coaching another NBA team if he left Philadelphia prematurely.
Counting Detroit, there are eight NBA coaching vacancies.