A little over a week after parting ways with Frank Vogel, the Indiana Pacers are reportedly about to hire a new coach. According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski and confirmed by CBS Sports’ Ken Berger, the Pacers will be promoting assistant coach Nate McMillan to the head coaching position:
McMillan interviewed for the head job with Pacers officials late in the week, offered the job and the two side were ironing out contract terms on Saturday, sources said.
A former player, McMillan has been an assistant coach with the Pacers since 2013 and previous to that, he was the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers for six-plus seasons from 2005-2012 and with the then-Seattle SuperSonics from 2000-2005. With the Blazers, McMillan got the team into the playoffs three out of the seven seasons he was there and in Seattle, the SuperSonics were in the postseason two out of the five years he was there and made one second-round appearance, his only playoff series win. McMillan has a .514 winning percentage as a head coach with a record of 478-452.
McMillan’s experience and already being a familiar voice in the Pacers’ locker room may be why team president of basketball operations Larry Bird promoted him. He is also a fine defensive coach, so there should likely won’t be a big drop-off for Indiana on that end of the court. When McMillan was a head coach, he often played a slow yet efficient style of basketball, which is contrary to what Bird wants out of the Pacers.
Bird wants the Pacers to adapt to the modern NBA and play at a faster pace, one reason why he jettisoned Roy Hibbert last summer and wanted Paul George to play power forward earlier this season. But McMillan shouldn’t be boxed into how he previously coached. He may have evolved his style and must have impressed Bird with his vision for the team. Only time will tell though but with Vogel gone, McMillan has some pretty big and successful shoes to fill in Indiana.