McMillan says he plans to take year off after being fired by Pacers

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Former Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan doesn't intend to pursue any coaching opportunities for the 2020-21 season, he said in an exclusive interview with Bob Kravitz of The Athletic.

“I’m going to take this year and just look at things,” McMillan said. “A lot has changed, the league and the game have changed, so I’ll take this year and see what happens, but I won’t get back into it this season.”

McMillan was fired Wednesday, shortly after the Pacers were swept by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference playoffs on the Disney campus.

It seemed to catch some around the league by surprise, as the Pacers remained competitive despite the recent injury losses of star guard Victor Oladipo and, more recently, All-Star power forward Domantas Sabonis.

McMillan was even signed to what Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported was a "soft" contract extension while on the Disney campus.

McMillan told Kravitz he thought it might mean he would have the opportunity to remain coach once the Pacers were fully healthy.

“Yeah, well that was the reason for signing the extension; I was going to get that chance,” McMillan said. “But in saying that, my thought at the time (of signing the deal) was we would get out of the first round of the playoffs because we were heading down to Orlando with a healthy roster (except for Jeremy Lamb). I felt confident we could beat those teams. …

“If we had gone down there with that full team, a healthy team, and lost, I would have made the decision for them. But I understand, sometimes you have some bad luck."

McMillan was the final hire of former Pacers GM Larry Bird, now an advisor with the club. In four seasons, McMillan has guided the Pacers to the playoffs each time -- including this one.

McMillan is a former point guard with the Seattle SuperSonics and eventually became the Sonics' coach. He has a winning percentage of .528 in 16 seasons with the Sonics, Portland Trail Blazers and Pacers, and is one of just 26 coaches with at least 600 career wins.

He was hired prior to the 2016-17 to replace Frank Vogel. McMillan had been an assistant on Vogel's staff before that. McMillan compiled the third most wins in Pacers' coaching history, finishing with a 183-136 record in Indiana.

Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni, whose contract expires at season's end, could become the Pacers' top target as a replacement for McMillan, Wojnarowski reported.

"D'Antoni isn't an inexpensive hire and that'll be a question for Pacers and small market teams with league revenue stagnant in pandemic," Wojnarowski wrote. "How far will they go to pay a coach? Indiana also plans to search pool of those they'd consider 'program builders' over long-term, per sources."