Nate McMillan

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Mayo, Mejri

Grant Hill has taken over as USA Basketball’s managing director and one of his first tasks is to find a replacement for coach Gregg Popovich. Hill told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears that he plans to hire a new coach before the NBA season begins on October 19.

Candidates that have previous experience with USA Basketball will have the upper hand, according to Spears. That group would include Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, Jay Wright, Doc Rivers, Nate McMillan, Monty Williams, Tom Thibodeau, Erik Spoelstra and Jeff Van Gundy.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard O.J. Mayo has reached an agreement with Russia’s Unics Kazan, Sportando relays. was first to report the news. Mayo was banned by the NBA in 2016 for violating the league’s drug program. Mayo has recently played in China.
  • Former Mavericks big man Salah Mejri has reached an agreement with Al Jahra in Kuwait, according to Sportando. Mejri appeared in 204 games with Dallas from 2015-19.
  • In case you missed it, Jarrell Brantley is expected to sign with a Russian team after being waived by the Jazz. Get the details here.

Eastern Notes: Holiday, LaVine, Hawks, Magic

The trade that brought Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee helped the Bucks reach the Finals. Holiday has struggled in the first two games of the series but Giannis Antetokounmpo is confident his teammate turn things around as the series shifts to Milwaukee, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes.

“No matter what’s going on, you’ve got to stay aggressive and you cannot get in your feelings. It’s hard not to,” Antetokounmpo said. “You know, NBA Finals, 20,000 people booing you and all that, it’s kind of hard. … If there’s a game that you’re 3-for-12 or whatever the case might be and you can rebound the ball or get a steal or do something else to help the team win, that’s what it’s all about right now. I think he understands that. I know he’s going to be there when we need him the most and I don’t worry about it.”

Holiday shot 11-for-35 from the field during the two games in Phoenix.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Zach LaVine will discuss a contract extension with the Bulls soon and he anticipates a positive outcome, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times tweets. LaVine will make $19.5MM next season and then is due to become an unrestricted free agent. LaVine is currently with Team USA training for the Olympics.
  • On the surface, Jamahl Mosley won’t have a lot of pressure as the new head coach of the rebuilding Magic — provided that he finalizes an agreement — but he’ll face some obstacles, Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes. The current roster doesn’t have a clear No. 1 offensive option and that could create some chemistry issues. In the same piece, Robbins reveals that president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond are expected to receive contract extensions. Both have one year remaining on their deals and the length of their new contracts will likely coincide with Mosley’s deal.
  • Now that he’s had the interim tag removed, Hawks coach Nate McMillan knows that expectations will ramp up for a team that reached the conference finals, Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. “Things just for whatever reason went right, and we had a lot of success,” he said. “We know that expectations are going to be higher for us next season. But the one thing we’ve tried to keep this team locked in on is just us. Not the outside noise and what people are saying we should be or shouldn’t be because at the beginning of the season, they weren’t saying what they’re saying now about us. So you can’t focus on that.”

Hawks Retain Nate McMillan As Permanent Head Coach

JULY 8: The Hawks have officially announced McMillan’s new long-term deal with the team.

“The incredible job Nate did after taking over this season made this an easy decision,” Schlenk said in a statement. “We were able to see how gifted a tactician, motivator and leader he is first-hand and the high level of respect and trust he earned from our players made securing him as our head coach our top priority.”

JULY 5: The Hawks have an agreement in place with Nate McMillan that will make him the team’s permanent head coach, president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk told reporters today (Twitter link via Chris Kirschner of The Athletic). McMillan’s new contract will be a four-year deal, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Schlenk said the two sides are “drawing up” the contract, so an official announcement should come soon (Twitter link via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype). According to Schlenk, the Hawks and McMillan reached a deal in principle on the morning after the squad advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals (Twitter link via Marc Stein).

McMillan began the 2020/21 season as an assistant on Lloyd Pierce‘s staff. However, after Atlanta got off to a 14-20 start, Pierce was let go and McMillan took over as the interim head coach. The Hawks finished the season on a 27-11 run and then beat the Knicks and Sixers in the first two rounds of the playoffs before pushing the Bucks to six games in the Eastern Finals.

Although they entered the year with playoff aspirations, even the Hawks weren’t counting on getting to within two wins of the NBA Finals. McMillan helped Atlanta exceed expectations in both the regular season and the postseason, all but guaranteeing the team would attempt to keep him around on a permanent basis.

There were rumors that the veteran coach – who previously led the Pacers, Trail Blazers, and SuperSonics – might draw interest from other suitors, but it appears he never seriously considered moving elsewhere. Schlenk said today that the Hawks offered McMillan the permanent job before the regular season ended (Twitter link via Kirschner).

McMillan has an overall regular season record of 688-599 (.535) during his NBA coaching career. That puts him 20th overall on the all-time list of coaching victories, and fourth among active head coaches, behind only Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, and Rick Carlisle.

Hawks Rumors: Collins, Huerter, Young, Reddish, Fields

There are still some people in the Hawks‘ front office who have concerns about John Collins‘ defensive abilities and may not be in favor of offering the restricted free agent a full maximum-salary contract this offseason, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

However, Collins – who never seriously considered Atlanta’s four-year, $90MM+ extension offer last year – played a key role in the Hawks’ deep playoff run and may ultimately force the club’s hand, Fischer says. Many league personnel expect Collins to re-sign with Atlanta, Fischer adds.

Collins isn’t the only Hawks starter eligible for a new long-term contract this summer. Kevin Huerter can receive a rookie scale extension starting in August, and there’s a belief around the league that the team will try to get something done with him, according to Fischer. Huerter’s strong season and postseason has solidified his place in the team’s plans — the Hawks shopped him in trade talks as recently as the 2020 offseason, Fischer notes.

Of course, Trae Young is also extension-eligible for the first time this offseason, and Fischer says there’s no doubt the team’s leading scorer will receive a maximum-salary offer. The only question is how much it will ultimately be worth — a standard max extension for Young projects to pay about $168MM over five years, but he and the Hawks will likely negotiate Rose Rule language that would increase the value to as much as $201MM+ if he earns an All-NBA spot next season.

Here’s more from Fischer on the Hawks:

  • Cam Reddish‘s impressive four-game run in the Eastern Conference Finals (12.8 PPG on .528/.643/.800 shooting) will give the Hawks a lot to think about this summer. According to Fischer, multiple rival front offices were hoping Reddish would be a buy-low option in trade talks, but that may no longer be the case.
  • Hawks assistant general manager Landry Fields continues to draw interest from rival teams, including the Celtics as a possible GM under new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, Fischer reports. If the Hawks were to promote Fields to GM in their own front office, Celtics VP of player development Allison Feaster may be the leading candidate to become Boston’s general manager, per Fischer.
  • Nate McMillan‘s “gruffer, old-school approach” contributed to his exit in Indiana, but he has changed his tone with the Hawks, taking a patient approach with the club’s younger players, including Young, says Fischer. “He’s reinvented himself, which is rare,” one team scout said. “You give him a lot of credit.”

Hawks Notes: Young, McMillan, Reddish, Bogdanovic

Hawks guard Trae Young returned Saturday, but he was clearly limited by injuries that forced him to miss the previous two games, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Young played 40 minutes, but didn’t have his usual explosiveness as he shot 4 of 17 from the field and scored 14 points.

He was still feeling the effects of a bone bruise in his right foot and a sprained right ankle that happened during Game 3. Saturday marked the first time he had stepped onto a court since the injury, other than testing it before Games 4 and 5. Young told reporters the bruise was in his heel and it affected him when he tried to get to the rim for a floater or a layup.

“Not being able to be out there for my team for two games, and then tonight just wanting to battle and try to fight through it as much as I could and try to be out there for my team, it’s definitely frustrating not being healthy and not being able to give my full 100 percent,” Young said.

There’s more from Atlanta:

  • One of the first orders of business for the offseason will be to negotiate a long-term deal with coach Nate McMillan, Bontemps adds. McMillan took over the Hawks in March when they were stuck in 11th place in the East and led them to the brink of the NBA Finals. “I don’t see interim on his label here soon,” Young said. “In my mind, I don’t think that will be a case that much longer.” 
  • Cam Reddish had a star-making performance in Saturday’s loss, observes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Playing in just his third game since returning from Achilles soreness that had sidelined him since February, Reddish scored 21 points and hit six of his seven three-point attempts. Kirschner notes that Reddish didn’t have a good relationship with former coach Lloyd Pierce, and many in the organization think he has the potential to be the team’s best player. “I really took to Cam when I first got here,” McMillan said. “He was a kid that I talked to early and was really wanting to coach him. I see a lot of Paul George in Cam — his length, his ability to defend.”
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic, who was a restricted free agent last offseason, said the Kings told him they would match any offer and they saw his value as $15MM to $17MM a year, according to Kirschner. He wound up getting $18MM from Atlanta and said he had no desire to return to Sacramento, calling it disrespectful that the Kings worked out a sign-and-trade with the Bucks without telling him. “I remember talking with (coach) Luke (Walton) and (general manager) Monte (McNair), and they both told me how they wanted me,” Bogdanovic said. “I said, ‘OK, fine.’ They said they were going to wait for my offer because they couldn’t make a deal before going to the market. I’m talking with my guys from (Sacramento) and I wasn’t even looking at free agency. … I was in Serbia and no one reached out to me. No one talked with me. No one asked me anything. I woke up, I saw it and then I didn’t know what to do. I called my agent and he told me to calm down because there was nothing they could do because I was a restricted free agent and they couldn’t do anything like that.”

Southeast Notes: Hornets’ Workouts, Westbrook, Beal, Mosley, McMillan

The Hornets worked out seven draft prospects on Friday, headlined by UConn guard James Bouknight, P.J. Morales of the Charlotte Observer writes. Bouknight is rated as the No. 8 overall prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list. Auburn guard Sharife Cooper (No. 18 on ESPN’s list), Tennessee guard Jaden Springer (No. 27), and Auburn forward JT Thor (No. 28) were some of the other potential first-rounders who visited. The group also included Iowa center Luka Garza, Howard center Makur Maker, and Croatian forward Roko Prkacin (No. 37).

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Not surprisingly, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal are the players most likely to remain on the Wizards‘ roster heading into next season, Fred Katz of The Athletic anticipates. Katz takes a look at every player on the roster and projects the odds they’ll return with Washington for the 2021/22 campaign.
  • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley was interviewed for the Magic’s head coaching job on Thursday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Orlando’s desire to interview Mosley was previously reported. Mosley is likely to leave Dallas after being passed over for the head coaching job that went to Jason Kidd.
  • Nate McMillan has far exceeded all expectations as the Hawks’ interim coach and Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes how the veteran coach has connected with his players in ways that previous coach Lloyd Pierce failed to do.

Southeast Notes: Dinwiddie, Vincent, Strus, Wizards, McMillan

After being swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Heat should be in the market for a point guard upgrade. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if free agent Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie could be a good fit. Dinwiddie, 28, missed all but three games in the 2020/21 season recovery from a partially-torn ACL.

A career 31.8% shooter from long range, the 28-year-old Dinwiddie may hurt the Heat’s already-cramped floor spacing playing alongside non-shooting stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Dinwiddie’s abilities as a ball handler and scorer, however, could counter some of the adverse impact his below-average three-point shooting could create.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Sioux Falls Skyforce, NBAGL affiliate of the Heat, will be returning in full force for the 2021/22 season. The Heat will now have to make some decisions on the fates of 2020/21 two-way players Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Winderman notes that Miami could tender qualifying offers to both players to make them restricted free agents. This way, the club could match any contracts they field from other teams. Vincent in particular emerged as one of the club’s best on-ball defenders, while Strus showed promise as a three-point shooter.
  • The Wizards are hoping to add a 2021 second-round draft selection, as they have in both the 2019 and 2020 drafts, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Hughes notes that the club’s recent interviews with Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix of the G League Ignite would suggest that the club is on the hunt for a second-rounder.
  • After being let go by the Pacers following a first-round playoff sweep in 2020, Nate McMillan initially considered sitting out the 2020/21 season. His mind was changed when then-Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce reached out to him. Now, McMillan himself is the club’s interim head coach, leading Atlanta to a 1-1 record in the Eastern Conference Finals. Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports details McMillan’s roller-coaster 2020/21 season. “I still wanted to coach [after the 2019/20 season], and after talking with Coach Pierce and hearing his vision, he wanted to get to the next level,” McMillan said. “Which was win. They were rebuilding, but they wanted to win. I thought it would be OK, go down and assist and not deal with the other stuff.” When Pierce was let go following a 14-20 start, McMillan was wary of the optics should he take over midseason. “They wanted to name me head coach; I had to take some time to think about that,” McMillan said. “I talked with Coach Pierce, he basically said he thought that I should take it and move forward.”

Hawks Notes: Capela, McMillan, Young, Reddish

Clint Capela felt like the Rockets gave up on him too quickly when they shipped him to the Hawks at the 2020 trade deadline, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The four-team deal came less than two years after Houston signed Capela to a five-year, $90MM contract, as the team opted to fully invest in a small-ball approach.

That decision has worked out well for Atlanta, which needed a strong rebounder and an interior presence on defense. Capela led the league in rebounding this season with 14.3 per night while averaging 2.0 blocks and shooting 59.4% from the field.

“What I like about this team is we always beat the odds,” he said. “People just don’t expect us to do it. People keep doubting us, and we just keep shocking them. In Houston, it was really a championship mentality every year, so it was almost like a must-win game, every game.”

There’s more on the Hawks:

  • Nate McMillan was hesitant to join the Hawks as an assistant under Lloyd Price because he didn’t want to be perceived as a “coach in waiting,” according to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic. When McMillan took over in midseason, he made some important changes that pointed the team in the right direction, including gaining the trust of Trae Young and challenging John Collins to improve as a two-way player. McMillan also brought a new attitude to the job. “I know I’ve changed,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned is you have to adapt to a new generation of players. I’m a huge fan of Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski), and when I got the job in Indiana he sent me a message that basically said, ‘Adapt.’ He had to do that with the kids going from staying in school four years to being one-and-done, and I also had to learn to adapt.”
  • Young accepted the blame for the Hawks’ embarrassment in Game 2 against the Bucks, per Royce Young of ESPN. Coming off a 48-point performance in the opener, Young shot just 6-of-16 and committed nine turnovers. “That’s all on me,” he said. “I’ve got to be better at taking care of the ball. And do a better job of at least getting us a shot and not turning it over so much. And I’ve got to do better and I will be better next game.”
  • If there was a bright side in Friday’s blowout, it was the return of Cam Reddish after missing more than four months with right Achilles soreness, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Reddish played 17 minutes and scored 11 points. “Basically it was an opportunity to get him some minutes,” McMillan said. “… It’s really tough to throw a guy out there in a situation like he’s been put in.” 

Southeast Notes: Bradley, Robinson, Weltman, Hawks

After Tim MacMahon of ESPN noted in a Hoop Collective Podcast appearance that the Rockets are expected to decline their $5.9MM second-year team option on the contract of guard Avery Bradley, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel said he believes the 30-year-old guard could be a nice cost-effective fit with the Heat.

Given that the Heat dealt him to the league-worst Rockets at the deadline this season, and that Bradley’s availability (and efficacy) was significantly hampered by injuries, Winderman acknowledges that the guard may look elsewhere first. Following the trade, Bradley averaged 5.2 PPG (while shooting 31.4% from the field and 27.0% from deep), 2.3 RPG and 1.9 APG across 23.0 MPG in 17 contests with the team.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Restricted Heat free agent Duncan Robinson has teased that he may provide his own scoop regarding his future with the franchise on his podcast The Long Shot, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The sharpshooting swingman, 27, just completed his third NBA season with Miami, who signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2018 out of Michigan. He has emerged as one of the top shooters in the NBA. In 2019/20, Robinson connected on 44.6% of his 8.3 three-point attempts a night. During the ’20/21 season, Robinson made 40.8% of his 8.5 three-point tries.
  • Magic team president Jeff Weltman spoke with Dan Savage of about the upcoming draft lottery, among other topics. “We’re already in deep preparation mode in ranking players, trying to gain an understanding of how we see each guy fitting into our team, and watching a lot of video, having spirited debates, (and) start(ing) to establish tiers and ranking systems,” Weltman said. “So, it really from that end of things doesn’t change. What it will do is it will inform us of how we can more efficiently begin to work. Once we know how many picks we’ll have, where we’re picking, we can kind of put a finer point on that work. And our work will kind of turn a corner after the lottery.” 
  • The Hawks are hoping to win a game in Philadelphia for the third time in their seven-game second-round series against the Sixers, writes Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Should the Hawks advance today, they will face off against the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday. “You have to look at that, the fact that we have won there twice in this series,” head coach Nate McMillan said. “So you should feel confident that you can win in that building. We’ve done well, I would say, in the playoffs on the road (the Hawks are 4-2 in playoff road games this season]) And I think we feel we have to play with confidence on the road, and as (star point guard Trae Young) mentioned, it’s a one-game series now.” McMillan is currently an interim head coach with the club, having replaced Lloyd Pierce during the season. His playoff run with the Hawks should bode well for a long-term future with the team.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Pacers, McMillan, Borrego

Of all the active head coaching searches around the NBA, the Magic‘s appears to be the most fluid, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Kenny Atkinson, identified last week as a candidate for the job, has been the named most frequently linked to Orlando’s vacancy, says Fischer, but the search is expected to be wide-ranging.

Lakers assistant Jason Kidd has been connected more and more to the Magic’s opening, per Fischer, who notes that Kidd has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond — the two worked in Milwaukee together from 2014-17 after Hammond hired Kidd as the Bucks’ head coach.

Former Warriors assistant Jarron Collins has talked to the Magic, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer says Nets assistant Ime Udoka is another candidate league sources have “strongly linked” the Orlando job, though there’s a sense Udoka may have more interest in the Celtics‘ job. Sixers assistant Sam Cassell may also be on the Magic’s radar, according to Fischer, who says Cassell would be popular among Orlando’s returning players.

Here are several more coaching-related notes and rumors from Fischer’s latest report:

  • With the Bucks tied at 2-2 in their second-round series, Mike Budenholzer is in a better position now than he was a few days ago, but if Milwaukee falls short of the Finals, there’s an expectation the team may make a change, per Fischer. In that scenario, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee could be candidates for a promotion, since the team may just want a change at the top rather than an overhaul of the entire coaching staff, Fischer notes.
  • If the Bucks make a change, Mike D’Antoni would likely have interest in the job, and Olimpia Milano coach Ettore Messina would be another name to keep an eye on, Fischer writes. Rick Carlisle could also receive interest from Milwaukee, Fischer adds, though Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said Carlisle’s not going anywhere.
  • Among the teams seeking a new coach, the Pacers appear to be the club most focused on hiring someone with previous head coaching experience, Fischer reports. Given how badly the hire of first-time head coach Nate Bjorkgren worked out, that’s not a huge surprise.
  • All indications are that Nate McMillan will sign a new contract with the Hawks to become the team’s permanent head coach, but until that happens, he’ll likely receive interest from other teams with coaching openings, including the Celtics, says Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Hornets and head coach James Borrego are expected to work out a contract extension this offseason.