Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird hired former assistant coach Nate McMillan to fill the team’s head coaching vacancy Saturday evening.
The Indiana Pacers and former head coach Frank Vogel parted ways just a little over a week ago. After addressing his desire for the Pacers to have an up-tempo offense next season, Bird made it sound as if he would look to hire an offensive-minded coach.
Earlier reports indicated that the Pacers were amongst one of the teams that had interest in hiring Jeff Hornacek — which would be ideal as he has been known for his offensive identity during his three-year tenure with the Phoenix Suns. Hornacek was fired by the Suns mid-way through the 2015 season.
McMillan had been speculated to be in the running for the Pacers’ coaching job, but the bizarre thing about the hiring is that there remained other candidates on the market whom would have fit Bird’s ideal picture of an offense more so than McMillan.
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Hornacek took a Suns team that ranked 21st in the league in offensive points per game in 2012, and transformed how the team played offensively. They ranked 7th in the NBA in the same category during the 2013-14 campaign during Hornacek’s first season as the head coach.
Perhaps Bird isn’t as crazy as he’s appeared over the last two weeks. He very well could see some potential in the hiring of McMillan resulting in a Pacer’s offense that can be amongst some of the league’s best.
But still, it could go without saying that Frank Vogel was a proven coach in the league who was known for his defensive identity and hard-nosed style of play. Of course, during Vogel’s years the Pacers never had a top-tier offense and were often stagnant at times with the ball.
The whole point however, is that Bird has been undeniably stubborn throughout this whole process, including the way he handled the firing of Vogel. It’s hard to wonder what he may be thinking throughout this entire process.
He preached for a new voice for the team who had an offensive mind, then proceeds to bring in McMillan who has been known for his defense and had been a part of the team since joining as an assistant in 2013.
This isn’t a bashing neither Bird or McMillan. Aside from a couple questionable personnel moves over the last few years, Bird has shown time and time again that he knows what he’s doing, so perhaps there is a distinct reasoning behind this hiring.
With a decent amount of cap space this coming offseason, the Pacers can afford to bring in at least one big-name free agent to help the team’s offense thrive along with a new coach in 2016.
Bird’s going to want to hope that the hiring of McMillan pays off, or it may be Vogel who gets the last laugh.