Sources: Jim O'Brien frontrunner to join staff

Jim O'Brien, who succeeded Rick Carlisle as coach of the Indiana Pacers in 2007, has emerged as the clear frontrunner to join Carlisle's staff in Dallas as the replacement for lead assistant Terry Stotts, according to NBA coaching sources.

ESPNDallas.com reported Thursday that O'Brien had become the "new name to watch" after the Mavericks saw two other candidates from their initial list, Steve Clifford and Jay Triano, take jobs with the Lakers and Trail Blazers, respectively.

Sources told ESPNDallas.com on Friday that O'Brien has indeed already interviewed with Carlisle and ranks as the Mavs' top target given Carlisle's reported preference to replace Stotts with a former NBA head coach.

Both Stotts and Dwane Casey, who left to fill the Toronto Raptors' head-coaching vacancy in the summer of 2011 after Dallas won the first championship in franchise history, brought that same level of experience to their respective roles focusing on offense and defense on Carlisle's staff.

O'Brien was fired by the Pacers halfway through the 2010-11 campaign after three non-playoff seasons in Indy. He previously coached the Boston Celtics (reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 2002) and the Philadelphia 76ers (for one season in 2004-05).