Pacers fire McMillan, creating another opening on coach market


The Pacers announced Wednesday that they fired head coach Nate McMillan, days after a first-round sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat, and weeks after reportedly inking him to a one-year extension.

That opens up another vacancy for the Bulls to contend with in their own search after Artūras Karnišovas fired Jim Boylen on the last day of the NBA restart's seeding phase. Since the conclusion of the regular season, the New Orleans Pelicans (Alvin Gentry), Philadelphia 76ers (Brett Brown) and now Pacers (McMillan) have canned their coaches; the Brooklyn Nets might be in the market for a new coach, as well, depending on the fate of interim Jacque Vaughn.

The Bulls have big-market appeal, cap flexibility in the summer of 2021 and a stable of intriguing young players anchoring their pitch to candidates. But that's tough, superstar-laden competition, to say the least.

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McMillan's resume also shouldn't be lost on the Karnišovas as he leads the Bulls' search. In four years with the Pacers, McMillan coached to a 183-136 record (those 183 wins are third in franchise history) and fostered a number of player development successes, from Victor Oladipo to Domantas Sabonis to T.J. Warren and beyond. Despite Paul George forcing his way out of town just one season after McMillan was elevated from associate head coach to the big chair, the Pacers registered regular-season winning percentages of .512, .585, .585 and .616 across his four years.


A 3-16 postseason record that includes three first-round sweeps in the past four seasons sullies that a tad, but McMillan is fifth among active coaches in career wins (661) thanks to past stints with the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics in the aughts. He also spent 12 years a player with the Sonics, earning two All-Defense selections, and a steals crown in 1993-94.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Mike D'Antoni, who's in the final year of his contract with the Houston Rockets, as a possible target of the Pacers to replace McMillan. Should D'Antoni hit the market, it would mean an opening in Houston too. Again, tough competition — though the candidate pool for each team may vary.

"This was a very hard decision to make," Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement," but we feel it's in the best interest of the organization to move in a different direction."

The statement also said that the team's coaching search would begin "immediately."