Jim O'Brien introduced as Pacers head coach

Jim O'Brien was hired Thursday as head coach of the Indiana Pacers.

Jim O'Brien was hired Thursday as head coach of the Indiana Pacers.

He replaces Rick Carlisle, who was fired April 25 following a disappointing 35-47 season in which Indiana missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

"We needed a guy with experience in here, a guy who I think I am going to be on the same page with to do the things necessary to take us to the next level," Pacers president Larry Bird said. "I have got the right man for the right job."

O'Brien, 55, boasts a 182-158 record as an NBA head coach with the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.

But he hasn't coached since being dismissed by the Sixers on May 23, 2005.

"I knew shortly after I left Philadelphia that I wasn't going to be out of coaching long if I had anything to do with it," he said. "I was hoping to get an opportunity like this."

O'Brien inked a four-year, $16 million US contract with the Sixers, but lasted only one season because he was unpopular among the players.

Even so, Philadelphia went 43-39 under O'Brien — a 10-win improvement over the previous season — and clinched a playoff spot.

"It's nice to see him get an opportunity to get back," said Flip Saunders, head coach of the Detroit Pistons. "Jim has done a great job in our league and he is a student of the game and very much a basketball purist."

O'Brien assumed Boston's head coaching reins when Rick Pitino resigned Jan. 8, 2001, and promptly returned the Celtics to the playoffs following a six-year absence.

O'Brien went 139-119 over three-plus seasons with Boston before quitting as head coach on Jan. 27, 2004, citing philosophical differences with Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

O'Brien resurfaced with the Sixers on April 21, 2004.

With files from the Associated Press