Agness: ‘Nate comes with an old school approach’
The Sacramento Kings’ search for a new head coach is still very much open and the list is growing. CSN Chicago’s Vincent Goodwill reported the Kings asked for permission to request an interview with Nate McMillan after the Indiana Pacers’ season is over.
McMillan is currently an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers under head coach Frank Vogel. McMillan could be a nice fit for the Kings to turn this ship around.
He played in the NBA for 12 years for the Seattle Supersonics and immediately after his retirement in 1998, McMillan stayed with the team as an assistant coach. Just two years later, McMillan became the interim coach for Seattle and eventually was hired as the head coach.
McMillan coached the Sonics until 2005 and compiled a record of 212 wins and 183 losses, taking them to the playoffs in two of his five seasons. In his final season, the Sonics won 51 games and lost in the Western Conference Finals.
McMillan’s coaching ability landed a job in Portland to coach a Trail Blazers team known as the “Jail Blazers.” The team was troubled but McMillan did a fantastic job to improve the team. After a slow first two seasons, McMillan took Portland to the playoffs for three consecutive years.
Unfortunately, McMillan’s inability to get Portland out of the first round got him fired midway through the 2012 season.
Therefore, is McMillan really a strong candidate, or is his average record not where the Kings should be looking?
One thing is certain—the most valuable things the Kings can get from McMillan is his level-headedness and interrelationship with players. A lot of the time players respect coaches who played before.
“Nate is well liked within the Pacers,” said Indiana Pacers beat writer, Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. “He’s appreciated in the locker room because he’s been in their position as a player in the league for over a decade.”
In his current position, McMillan isn’t just a yes man and is actively involved in the team’s operations. McMillan has the final say on what the game plan is going to be before presented to coach Vogel. Throughout the game, McMillan offers advice and seems to be a key asset to the Pacers.
McMillan seems like a strong candidate because maybe he can be the next DeMarcus Cousins coach who can relate to him and develop a healthy relationship like Michael Malone did. Maybe Cousins will respect McMillan as a former veteran of the league and listen to his advice. It seems like McMillan could run a tight ship since he’s done it before and help the Kings turn this thing around. There’s never anything wrong with a well seasoned coach.
However, McMillan’s record is just slightly above average, 478-452, .514 winning percentage. And he might be comfortable enough in the position he has now.
“While I do believe Nate is interested in being a head coach once again, he understands the importance of fit,” Agness said. “Things are comfortable for him as he appears to be happy in his current situation.”
As an assistant coach, McMillan gets to coach and be involved in the sport he loves, but with less responsibility. Assistant coaches have little obligation to the media, but McMillan is still really involved in the way the team plays.
A serious reason the Kings could stay away from McMillan is his coaching style. The NBA has started to fall under a new style of coaching with analytics and numbers being so pivotal but McMillan doesn’t really dive into it too much. Although he will acknowledge it, analytics are not a top priority for McMillan.
“As some teams go the route of the hot, young candidate, Nate comes with an old school approach,” Agness said. “Some franchises and coaches value analytics more than others. He doesn’t get too deep into it, but he also doesn’t discount them.”
This could be a reason why the Kings stay away from seriously considering McMillan as their head coach. But the interview could change things a lot.
While many Kings fans would be more than happy to have a coach with McMillan’s style, after hiring a veteran coach such as George Karl and it being an utter failure, maybe analytics will have more importance during this coaching search. Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is a huge analytics guy and it has worked out thus far for the Celtics.
Whether or not McMillan becomes the guy, Divac will gain a lot of perspective by listening to his coaching approach and ideas.