That didn’t take long. Just over a week after Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird announced that head coach Frank Vogel would not be retained, he’s lined up a replacement in-house. The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Nate McMillan, who’s been an assistant in Indiana since the 2013-14 season, is getting the job.
This hire is unexpected and a little bit puzzling. McMillan is a good coach who won a lot of games in Portland and helped that franchise out of the “Jail Blazers” era. But Bird’s chief criticism of Vogel was that his teams didn’t play with enough pace, and McMillan’s Blazers teams finished at or near the bottom of the league in that category most years. Bird’s rationale for letting Vogel go also involved the need for a new voice in the locker room, which makes promoting an assistant who’s been with the team for the past three years a confusing decision.
But maybe Bird knows something we don’t. Maybe McMillan has updated his offensive philosophy. He’s a good coach who deserves another chance at a head gig. This fit just seems at odds with what Bird says he wants.