Well this is all sorts of awkward and to me a little confusing. Are we sure the Pacers know what they hell they're doing? It was literally two weeks to the day that they did this
only to then what, fire him because he got swept in the playoffs by a better Miami team? I'm not sure how this can really be put on Nate McMillan. Remember, this is what their GM said two weeks ago
"What Nate has done in four seasons with our franchise merits this extension," Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement. "Between injuries and changes in personnel, he and his coaching staff have adapted and produced positive results. He also represents the franchise, the city and our state in a first-class manner."
Last season he lost his best player and All Star Victor Oladipo and still made the playoffs. This year he lost another All Star in Sabonis and he gets canned because his team wasn't good enough? What team loses an All Star player and doesn't feel the impact? Not only that, but he's also lost guys like Bogndanovic and Thad Young. I'd say it's pretty impressive that he got this team to stay in the 4-5 seed range despite all that.
Here's what we do know about the Pacers during McMillan's tenure. They played fucking hard. This was a team that responded to their coach and was competitive night in and night out. Once you get to the playoffs, it becomes a talent issue and frankly the Heat had more talent. I understand that on the surface having back to back years of getting swept in the first round is bad, but you need to factor in the context surrounding both of those series.
Does this mean Nate McMillan is perfect? No. I'm sure Pacers fans out there might not be thrilled with his rotation or late game execution, but you can't argue against the fact that he never had his full deck of options once things got to the playoffs.
You have to wonder what domino effect this might have on the franchise moving forward. Do they just rip the bandaid 100% off and not even offer Oladipo an extension? He certainly didn't look all that great in the bubble and he wants big time money. Do they bite the bullet and trade Myles Turner for assets and just build around Brogdon/Warren/Sabonis? Will any of that even matter and actually make the Pacers not be a 4-5 seed and first round exit? They are sort of in basketball purgatory at the moment which is the worst possible place to be in the NBA. Good enough to miss the lottery but not good enough to actually compete. That's brutal.
All I'm saying is it's pretty shitty to extend a guy because you were happy with how he handled injuries and roster turnover only to then fire him because he got bounced from the playoffs with injuries playing a factor. That doesn't really add up if you ask me.
So where do they go from here? Mike D'Antoni is being thrown out there. There's guys like Kenny Atkinson out there. But where would you even rank the Pacers in terms of potential openings. They aren't in the PHI/BKN tier, probably closer to the CHI tier. How much better of a coach are you even going to get that won't also have the same issues if they have to deal with All Stars getting injured? Probably not that much better.