The Dallas Morning News, citing an NBA source, reported Carlisle had agreed in principle to the deal. He would take over for the recently-dismissed Avery Johnson.
Carlisle coached Detroit for two years and Indiana for four, putting together a 281-211 record. He was named the NBA's Coach of the Year in 2002.
He last coached in Indiana in the 2006-07 season, during which the Pacers went 35-47. His Indiana team of 2003-04 reached the Eastern Conference finals.
Johnson was fired after the Mavericks failed to advance in the playoffs two straight seasons. They have lost 12 of their last 15 playoff games.