The Indiana Pacers have fired head coach Nate McMillan, the team announced Wednesday. The Pacers were swept out of the 2020 NBA Playoffs by the Miami Heat in the first round. Indiana had entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers had made the playoffs in four straight seasons under McMillan, Unfortunately, all of those appearances ended in first-round losses. McMillan was an associate coach for Indiana prior to being named head coach before the 2016-17 season. In four seasons as head coach, McMillan finishes with a 183-136 record in the regular season and 3-16 record in the playoffs. Three of those four playoff exits were via sweep.
The Pacers’ early playoff exit isn’t all on McMillan. The team didn’t put up much of a fight, but was also without All-Star C Domantas Sabonis and SG Jeremy Lamb for the seeding round and first round. You could argue things might be different against the Heat with Sabonis in the lineup. It seems the Indiana brain trust didn’t want to give McMillan the benefit of the doubt.
So Indiana will look for a new head coach to lead a promising young core of Malcolm Brogdon, Victor Oladipo, Sabonis and Myles Turner. Before the pandemic hit and the NBA was forced to halt, the Pacers were on pace to have their best season under McMillan. Perhaps a full regular season would have afforded Indy the chance at the No. 3 seed. Anyway, no sense playing the “What if?” game, right?
As for candidates, assistant coach Ime Udoka of the Sixers has been a trendy name, so my guess is he gets an interview. Jason Kidd, Ty Lue, Kenny Atkinson and recently Brett Brown are former head coaches who could pop up on the short list for the Pacers. Apparently, Mike D’Antoni will be a target for the Pacers after his contract is up with the Rockets after this season.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni — in the final year of his contract — will be an Indiana target should he become available, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 26, 2020