5 candidates to replace Nate McMillan as Pacers head coach

The Indiana Pacers have fired head coach Nate McMillan, and one of these five guys could replace him.

The Indiana Pacers gave head coach Nate McMillan a one-year contract extension just earlier this month, but my how fast things change. On Wednesday, not coincidentally after a four-game sweep by the Miami Heat, the Pacers fired McMillan.

“On behalf of the Simon family and the Pacers organization, I’d like to thank Nate for his years with the team,” Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement. “This was a very hard decision for us to make; but we feel it’s in the best interest of the organization to move in a different direction.”

McMillan had a 183-136 record over four seasons as the Pacers’ head coach, with a 45-28 mark this year that could have been a 50-plus win season over a full 82 games. But he was just 3-16 in in the playoffs, with three first round sweeps. Including his time with the Seattle Supersonics and Portland Trail Blazers, he is 661-558 over 16 seasons as head coach (17-36 in the playoffs).

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted, McMillan’s contract extension was a pretty soft one, with a reworking of 2020-21 and a team option for 2021-22.

Wojnarowski has suggested the Pacers will explore a pool of candidates they consider “program builders”, and it can be assumed some solid, proven names will surface too as the Indiana job is added to a list of openings that includes the 76ers, Nets, Pelicans and Bulls.

As the search begins “immediately”, here are 5 candidates to replace Nate McMillan as the Pacers’ head coach.

Who could replace Nate McMillan as Pacers’ head coach?

5. Mark Jackson

Jackson is never too far from speculation when head coaching jobs come open, most recently with the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. He has said he believes he will coach again while resisting the idea he has been blackballed.

“I don’t believe that no man can blackball me. That door will open up and the opportunity will present itself. I’ll be locked and loaded and fully prepared.”

Jackson of course spent three seasons as Golden State Warriors head coach, going from 23 wins in his first season (2011-12) to 51 wins in his final season (2013-14). Whether he was the guy to take that team to the championship level it reached under Steve Kerr was rendered moot by conflict with management.

Jackson has a prime gig with ESPN/ABC, but the coaching itch is clearly still there. Would the Pacers’ job get his attention? He spent all or part of six seasons of his playing career in Indiana, so maybe he would listen if the Pacers wanted to talk to him.

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