Nate McMillan

Central Notes: Gilbert, Turner, McMillan, M. Williams

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert won’t be involved with the team’s draft preparations as he continues to recover from a stroke, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Gilbert is still in a Detroit-area hospital, and Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner issued a statement today suggesting that the recovery might be lengthy.

“Dan’s recovery is a process that will take time — but we are all confident that he will meet this challenge head on as he always does,” Farner wrote.

Sources tell Fedor that Gilbert has already approved an aggressive spending plan if GM Koby Altman believes it’s necessary to improve the team. That includes taking back a sizable contract to get rid of J.R. Smith, who was exiled from the team after playing just 11 games this season. Cleveland owns picks No. 5 and 26 in the draft and will reportedly try to buy into the second round.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Competing for a spot on Team USA for the FIBA World Cup tournament will give Pacers center Myles Turner another shot to gain recognition after being left off the All-Defensive team, notes Scott Agness of The Athletic. Turner led the league in total blocked shots with 199 and blocks per game at 2.7, but didn’t receive first- or second-team honors. Two of Turner’s teammates, Lithuanian center Domantas Sabonis and Canadian guard Cory Joseph, will be in China for the tournament.
  • Pacers coach Nate McMillan was slated to be an assistant to Gregg Popovich on Team USA, but he withdrew after Indiana was scheduled for a trip to India in early October, Agness adds in the same piece. The World Cup title game is September 15, and McMillan wants to focus on his NBA responsibilities. “My first priority is the Pacers,” he said. “I committed to USA Basketball before I got the schedule next season for us.”
  • Former Heat guard Matt Williams was invited to a free agent mini-camp with the Pistons, tweets Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Williams appeared in three games as a two-way player for Miami during the 2017/18 season before playing this year in Finland and Greece. Forward Marc Loving, formerly of Ohio State, also received an invitation (Twitter link). He played in the G League this season.

And-Ones: Early Entrants, Ball, Pierce, Diaw

After releasing a 233-player list of early entrants for the 2019 NBA draft on Tuesday, the league followed up today by adding a few more names to that list. According to an announcement from the league, “timely letters” were received from three more prospects who declared for the draft. Those players are as follows:

Leading up to the early entry deadline, there were reports that Cham, Lamb, and Sneed all intended to enter the draft, so it was a little surprising not to see them on the NBA’s official list this week. They’re on there now though, and the additions of those three names mean that this year’s early entrant total is up to 236 players, matching a record set in 2018.

As we noted on Tuesday, there were still several players who reportedly intended to declare for the draft as early entrants and aren’t on the NBA’s list, so they either had second thoughts or missed the deadline. The next deadline will arrive on May 29, when NCAA prospects will have to either withdraw from this year’s draft pool or officially forfeit their remaining college eligibility.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Alan Foster, a former associate of Lonzo Ball and the Ball family, is under FBI investigation, according to a report from Tania Ganguli and Richard Winton of The Los Angeles Times. The Bureau is looking into whether Foster defrauded the Ball family out of millions of dollars, according to Ganguli and Winton, who say the investigation has been going on for more than two months. Foster was already facing a lawsuit accusing him of embezzling over $2MM from Big Baller Brand for his personal use.
  • Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce has taken the place of Pacers head coach Nate McMillan as an assistant on Team USA’s coaching staff for 2019/20, according to a press release. McMillan withdrew due to scheduling conflicts, opening the door for Pierce to claim a spot on Gregg Popovich’s staff for the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.
  • Longtime NBA forward Boris Diaw is reportedly poised to take over as the president of French team Levallois Metropolitans. The news was reported by Le Parisien, and relayed by Sportando and Eurohoops. Assuming it becomes official, Diaw will become the second notable NBA player to assume the role of team president for a French club, joining former teammate Tony Parker, who runs ASVEL Villeurbanne.

And-Ones: Team USA, G League, Sessions, D. Gordon

Steve Kerr and Brad Stevens are considered the most likely candidates to succeed Gregg Popovich as head coach of Team USA, but there could be other names in the mix, relays Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. During a recent podcast, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned Erik Spoelstra as a possibility, along with Nate McMillan and Villanova’s Jay Wright, although he added that the job will probably go to a current NBA coach.

ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst, who joined Wojnarowski for the show, questioned whether McMillan is really in the running, but called Spoelstra a “very strong” candidate, noting that he is highly respected around the league and is the second-longest-tenured head coach with the same team. Spoelstra’s main obstacle is that he’s not already on the Team USA staff.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • The G League’s new alternative to college basketball is getting mixed reviews from some of the nation’s top high school players, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The league plans to offer $125K “select contracts” to top prospects who are at least 18 years old but aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft. Givony talked to a few five-star recruits who haven’t chosen a college — along with their families — and found both interest and skepticism about the new arrangement. “My first reaction was I’d like to hear more,” said Richard Hurt, the father of top-10 recruit Matthew Hurt. “… There are some things that are intriguing about it. It’s not the money. It’s the opportunity to focus solely on what your craft will be. Similar to what a trade school would be.”
  • Ramon Sessions may be headed to Israel, notes Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Maccabi Tel Aviv is reportedly considering an offer for the 11-year NBA veteran, who played a combined 28 games last season for the Knicks and Wizards. Sessions may replace another former NBA player, Jeremy Pargo, who will miss several weeks with an injury.
  • Drew Gordon tells NetsDaily.com that he sees the G League as his chance to return to the NBA after three years of being overseas. Gordon, who is playing for Long Island, has just nine games of NBA experience, all coming with the Sixers during the 2014/15 season. “I’ve basically been living my life out of four suitcases for the last five, six years,” he said. “It’s always interesting to immerse yourself into different cultures and having to live there for an extended period of time. You just have to learn to go with the flow with certain types of things and be able to adapt quickly and make changes with your game and everyday lifestyle.”

And-Ones: Team USA, McAdoo, Bennett, Drafts

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Pacers coach Nate McMillan and Villanova coach Jay Wright have been named assistant coaches of the 2019-20 USA Basketball Men’s National Team, USA Basketball announced in a press release. The three assistants will join Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to round out the coaching staff of the Olympic team.

“Led by coach Popovich, we have assembled an incredible coaching staff for the USA National Team, and we are excited to have Steve Kerr, Nate McMillan and Jay Wright join the team as assistant coaches,” said Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball Men’s National Team. “It’s special that each coach has prior USA Basketball experience as either a player or coach, and each coach has compiled a successful and impressive resume. I’m very confident that the USA Basketball National Team is in excellent hands the next two years.”

Popovich, Kerr, McMillan and Wright share decades of combined coaching and playing experience, with each coach highly respected by their peers and by players across the NBA.

“I am honored and fortunate to have such gifted coaches share this USA Basketball responsibility with me,” Popovich said. “Steve Kerr, Nate McMillan and Jay Wright are not just knowledgeable, dedicated individuals, but they exhibit the creativity, tenacity and respect for the game needed to compete in the international arena.

“I look forward to joining them as USA Basketball attempts to extend the stellar success they’ve enjoyed over the past 12 years.”

The USA National Team has won 76 straight games, including three straight gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016. The impressive coaching staff – followed by an expected All-Star team of talent in 2020 – puts Team USA in a good position to win a fourth straight gold medal.

There’s more news around the basketball world:

  • The Maine Red Claws completed a trade today in the G League, sending the returning player rights of Anthony Bennett to the Agua Caliente Clippers in exchange for the returning player rights to James McAdoo and a 2018 third-round pick in the upcoming G League Draft. The Maine Red Claws are the G League affiliate of the NBA’s Celtics, while the Agua Caliente Clippers are the Clippers‘ affiliate.
  • ESPN.com writers Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz published a detailed story on young prospects, focusing on players from the 2019 recruiting class who could become draft-eligible in 2020. Class of 2019 center James Wiseman remains an intriguing talent, with the 7-footer still considering offers from a handful of schools.
  • We discussed several more basketball odds and ends in our last And-Ones roundup, including an update on the NBA’s new international plans for the 2019 preseason.

Central Notes: Parker, G. Robinson, Bullock, McMillan

Signing Jabari Parker away from the Bucks was a low-risk, high-reward move that could significantly raise the Bulls‘ talent level, writes Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders in that site’s season preview for Chicago. Parker got a two-year, $40MM deal that Milwaukee elected not to match. However, only the first season is guaranteed, so the Bulls can treat it like an expiring contract if things don’t work out.

Parker provided some reasons for optimism last season after returning from ACL surgery on his left knee. He averaged 12.6 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 31 games while shooting 48% from the field and 38% from 3-point range. There are still questions about his defense, which may improve after a summer off to rest the knee, and he will have to adjust to the small forward spot in Chicago.

In the same preview, the Basketball Insiders crew tabs rookie Wendell Carter as the Bulls’ best defensive player and states that Fred Hoiberg is finally getting to coach the style of team he envisioned when he took the job.

There’s more today from the Central Division:

  • Glenn Robinson III’s 3-point shooting may help him win a starting job with the Pistons, Keith Langlois of NBA.com notes in a mailbag column. Robinson and Stanley Johnson are the only natural small forwards on Detroit’s roster, and while Johnson is the better defender, Robinson has the size and athleticism to help on that end of the court. New coach Dwane Casey plans to emphasize 3-pointers, which gives Robinson a chance for significant playing time, whether as a starter or reserve.
  • The Pistons could have a tough time keeping Reggie Bullock next summer without making some roster moves to free up cap space, Langlois adds in the same piece. Bullock and  Johnson are both headed toward free agency, but Johnson will be restricted if Detroit makes a qualifying offer. Bullock will be seeking a raise from this year’s $2.5MM salary, and the team already has nearly $105MM committed for 2019/20.
  • Nate McMillan became just the second coach in Pacers history to receive a contract extension when his new deal was announced this week, observes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. McMillan far exceeded expectations last year in leading Indiana to a 48-win season after the team traded away Paul George.

Pacers Sign Nate McMillan To Contract Extension

SEPTEMBER 4: More than a month after reaching an agreement on a new deal for McMillan, the Pacers have officially announced in a press release that the head coach has signed his extension.

AUGUST 1: The Pacers and head coach Nate McMillan are in agreement on a deal that will extend his contract through the 2020/21 season, league sources ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

McMillan, who was named Frank Vogel‘s replacement by the Pacers back in the 2016 offseason, signed a three-year contract at that time, so he would have been entering the final year of his deal this fall if he hadn’t worked out a new agreement with the team.

Wojnarowski reported in June that the Pacers would likely discuss an extension for McMillan this offseason, with president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard confirming last month that those talks were underway.

McMillan made the Pacers’ decision to extend him an easy one. After leading the team to a 42-40 record during his first year as head coach, McMillan and the Pacers were expected to take a step back last season with star forward Paul George no longer on the roster. However, Indiana was one of the NBA’s surprise teams of 2017/18, racking up 48 wins and earning the No. 5 seed in the East. The Pacers pushed LeBron James and the Cavaliers to seven games in the first round before losing Game 7.

In total, McMillan has a 90-74 (.549) record in two seasons with the Pacers. The veteran coach, who was an assistant on Vogel’s staff before earning a promotion in 2016, had previous stints as the head coach of the SuperSonics and Trail Blazers. His overall record as a head coach is 568-526 (.519), placing him fifth among active head coaches in career wins, and 26th all-time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Pacers, Oladipo, Cavaliers, Vonleh

The Pacers took the conference champion Cavaliers to seven games in their playoff series and feel good about their chances to contend in the upcoming season, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Coach Nate McMillan is especially encouraged by Indiana’s offseason moves, which included the free agent additions of Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn, along with drafting Aaron Holiday.

“We feel good about our draft picks and our free agents that we were able to pick up,” McMillan said. “We felt like we added a need to our roster. We felt like we were able to strengthen our bench. All of those were guys we felt like if we could improve that position, we wanted to. Aaron is going to be a real solid guard in this league.”

“Is it open? With LeBron [out]? Yes. We’re happy that he’s gone west,” McMillan said. “But we know that it’s still going to be a challenge and we have to make sure we work on us and not assume anything. It’s going to be a challenge for us to do the things we did last season and do it better.”

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • Victor Oladipo‘s summer is a mixture of workouts and marketing opportunities, relays J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. The league’s reigning Most Improved Player adopted a new diet and upgraded his offseason routine last year before posting the best season of his NBA career. The Pacers star is also taking advantage of his new-found fame to help build his brand. “I decided to take control on and off the court and really make decisions that are best for me instead of relying on other people,” Oladipo says. “It’s about growth, getting a little wiser, a gray hair here or there. I’m trying to grow up.”
  • The Cavaliers have 12 players on their roster with guaranteed contracts and are keeping two spots open for David Nwaba and Rodney Hood, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Cleveland was reportedly finalizing a deal with Nwaba at the start of the month, but nothing has been made official. Hood remains the top restricted free agent on the market, but has little bargaining power with so few teams having cap space remaining. Point guard Isaiah Taylor, who signed a non-guaranteed $1.5MM deal yesterday, will also compete for a roster spot, Marks adds.
  • The Cavaliers were the second choice for former Bulls forward Noah Vonleh, who signed with the Knicks this summer, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Bucks and Spurs were also in the running.

Central Notes: Valentine, McMillan, Morris, Pistons

The Bulls’ starting lineup seems set but there will be a couple of key position battles in training camp, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes. Justin Holiday and Denzel Valentine will be angling for playing time at small forward behind Jabari Parker, while Cameron Payne could have an unexpectedly tough battle with Ryan Arcidiacono as the main backup at point guard. Cristiano Felicio also needs to carve out a role and earn some of his $8,470,980 salary, Cowley adds. ‘‘The thing I’m excited about with training camp is it’s going to be open competition,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers needed to extend coach Nate McMillan to prevent a lame-duck situation next season, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star explains. McMillan agreed to an extension through the 2020/21 season. It was also necessary for a franchise that preaches culture and loyalty to reward its coach for a job well-done last season, Michael continues. The Pacers overcame the lack of true stretch four as well as a shooter at the backup shooting guard spot. Their wings were also somewhat limited offensively and they were undersized in the backcourt, Michael adds.
  • If Jaylen Morris can improve his perimeter shooting, the Bucks will be rewarded for signing him to a two-way contract, according to Dakota Schmidt of RidiculousUpside.com. Morris is adept at attacking the basket and finishing at the rim and is also a solid defender, Schmidt continues. The 22-year-old wing will also benefit from working with assistant Ben Sullivan, who has helped numerous players with their shooting stroke, Schmidt adds.
  • The Pistons’ 15-man roster appears to be set after a low-key July that included the free agent signings of three reserves, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press relays. Ellis breaks down the roster player-by-player in the story.

Pacers’ Pritchard Talks Offseason, Young, McMillan

The Pacers‘ free agent shopping for 2018 is all but over, with the team having used up its cap space on Doug McDermott and Tyreke Evans before committing its room exception to Kyle O’Quinn. While the team may make some tweaks around the edges of its roster, it won’t be able to offer more than the veteran’s minimum to any more free agents.

With his roster for 2018/19 nearly set, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard spoke to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star about this summer’s free agent signings, an increased focus on three-point shooting, and several other Pacers-related topics. The conversation is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from Pritchard:

On considering making a trade during last month’s draft:

“We had a couple of guys that we really liked in the draft and to move up we were going to have to take on some contracts. Some teams wanted to get off contracts. We were able to move up but it would’ve taken us completely out of free agency. What happens is you evaluate what you think can happen on July 1 in free agency, which you have no clue, or do you move up and get a young guy that’s up and coming? As we analyzed it, what we felt like was important was this team last year made a jump like we weren’t expecting. We wanted it to be a good team, but adding a really good rookie (chosen higher in the draft) is a good thing but sometimes that’s a future’s play.”

On Thaddeus Young‘s decision to exercise his player option:

“We were thrilled because we wanted to keep that starting five in place. Now we’ve kept the top seven guys (from last year’s team) in terms of minutes played and adding a few players that we feel like could come off our bench to be effective. Thad means everything to us. The continuity of that, what he brings in the locker room — it feels like we over-talk about that stuff — but it’s important. We know what Thad is. He’s going to be a great leader and he’ll have a heck of year. I have no doubt.”

On the contract status of head coach Nate McMillan, who is entering the final year of his deal:

“We’re talking right now. We value what he’s done. We understand how important he is and we’ll have conversations over the summer with him.”

On what it will take for a star free agent to seriously consider the Pacers:

“If we win a series or get a little deeper into the playoffs with our flexibility, that’s our ultimate goal. A good core we believe in and then ultimately some flexibility to go after something like that. We may not get him, but you have to at least try. For me, having some success on the court, having our players enjoy the way we play and winning, that’s the best thing Indiana can provide. If you want to come, have success, have a chance to win in the playoffs, we can provide that.”

Coaching Moves: Sixers, Raptors, Pelicans, Suns

 The Sixers have named Connor Johnson as their G League coach, the team announced in a press release. Johnson will coach the Delaware Blue Coats after working the past four seasons working with the 76ers coaching staff. The newly-named Blue Coats will play in the new 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington. Johnson was Philadelphia’s director of player development and coaching administration last season.
In other coaching-related news around the league:
  • The Raptors were denied permission from the Pelicans to hire Chris Finch as an assistant coach, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. New Raptors coach Nick Nurse was an assistant under Finch on Great Britain’s Olympic team in 2012 and was hoping to bring his well-regarded knowledge of offensive schemes to Toronto, Stein adds in another tweet.
  • The Pelicans did lose one of their assistants as Jamelle McMillan, son of Pacers coach Nate McMillan, joined Igor Kokoskov’s staff with the Suns, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets. The younger McMillan is just 29 years old.
  • The Raptors hired Jama Mahlalela as head coach of their NBA G League affiliate, Raptors 905, the team’s media relations department tweets. Mahlalela, who has five years of experience as an NBA assistant, replaces Jerry Stackhouse. Stackhouse, who led the team to consecutive G League Finals, joined the Grizzlies’ staff after being interviewed for multiple NBA head coaching jobs.