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Rick Carlisle reiterates NBA's diversity as black coaches decline

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The NBA is still at the forefront of diversity according to Rick Carlisle.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, a report was published by Howard Beck detailing the decline of African American head coaches in the NBA. At present, there are only eight including Sam Mitchell, who is in an interim role with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Beck notes that the league averaged 11 black head coaches from 2001-2014 and that the recent number is the lowest it has been in 16 years.

Some of the sources quoted in Beck's piece see the drop as a cyclical shift that will rebound given time. Others, though, see the decline as part of an overall shift in team strategy and thinking that has negative repercussions for black coaches going forward. More and more, Beck writes, teams are looking for splashier, "outside the box" hires rather than former players, which partly explains the trend.

Rick Carlisle, the president of the NBA Coaches Association, had not seen the report when I asked him about it before Saturday's game against the Pelicans. However, he reiterated the league's commitment to diversity.

"The NBA has always been one of the most proactive leagues in racial equality and giving opportunities," Carlisle said. "We're going to be at the forefront as a league providing those opportunities."

He went on to praise Alvin Gentry, a black head coach who was hired to be New Orleans' head coach this summer.

Gentry is quoted in Beck's piece as wanting to keep an eye on the numbers of black coaches.

"I think it bears watching, to see what happens," Gentry told Beck. "Five years from now, where are we going to be, from a numbers standpoint?"

Whether the present decline in African American coaches in the NBA is simply a one-off or part of a broader trend, I don't know. I'd recommend you read Beck's well-researched piece and draw your own conclusions.