Pacers Rumors: Nate McMillan’s job is (wrongly) at stake in Orlando

Indiana Pacers, Nate McMillan (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers, Nate McMillan (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Nate McMillan may be hanging onto his job with the Indiana Pacers by a thread

Look, Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan is not perfect.

In fact, like most head coaches in the NBA, he’s far from it. McMillan has been criticized for poor decision making at the helm of the Pacers game-planning, and is one of the people most in a position to need to prove their worth to the franchise. Especially as the team enters a period of financial uncertainty brought about by the global pandemic (as does the entire NBA, contextually), all cylinders must be firing.

According to Jeff Van Gundy on Zach Lowe’s podcast The Lowe Post, McMillan’s job is in a critical position in Orlando.

H/T to Alex Golden for the transcription here:

It’s a bit ridiculous for Pacers rumors to center on Nate McMillan

I’ve been one to stand by Nate McMillan and his abilities as a head coach. In fact, I penned an article during the hiatus stating that McMillan doesn’t get the respect he deserves.

Some more on the critical spectrum of McMillan thought that was ludicrous, but I stand by it. When you have some truly poor decision makers leading competitive teams — Brett Brown in Philadelphia — and historically poor game-planners leading Conference Champions — Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee — McMillan doesn’t look too bad.

He leads a good ship, and a ship that hasn’t been without rough waters.

Here’s a list of things McMillan had to deal with (and still is dealing with!) this season

  • Victor Oladipo out from October until January
  • A less-than-ideal situation in the starting frontcourt. Some would call it a logjam between Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis
  • A global pandemic putting his team’s season on pause for months, needing to keep culture instated over ZOOM
  • Victor Oladipo’s lingering injury impacting the team’s game plan and personnel in Orlando
  • A major Domantas Sabonis injury after his first All-Star season right as the team finally looked to be at full strength

OK, so how did McMillan endure?

The Pacers reminded competitive without Oladipo. Sure, much of that is credit to Domantas Sabonis and the players, but a good part of that hinges on McMillan’s rotations. He pulls Sabonis out early so he can feast on second units.

McMillan also coached up T.J. Warren to one of his best seasons ever, including a more balanced shot profile and a defensive performance that is leaps and bounds better than it used to be.

The global pandemic is something every coach has had to deal with, so we’ll call that even.

Oladipo’s injury has been tough to manage. Not knowing if your star player is playing and what level they’ll be at is difficult.

The Sabonis injury compounds any contingency planning you have in place.

How have the Pacers responded in Orlando? 3-1 going into Friday.

I mean, come on.

I get that McMillan isn’t exactly the cream of the crop, but swapping him for a Kenny Atkinson or Mark Jackson right now isn’t the route to go. Regardless, these are now options we’ll have to analyze.

The Pacers might be wise to pursue the hypothetical nature of some options, but McMillan deserves to have security going into 2020-21. The Pacers owe it to themselves to give themselves as few moving pieces, too.

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