Nate McMillan, Pacers agree to contract extension

Nate McMillan, Pacers, Kevin Pritchard

One of the Pacers’ offseason priorities is in the process of being finalized. With the draft, free agency, and summer league complete, team executives turned their attention to the contract of head coach Nate McMillan. He was promoted from associate head coach in 2016 and was prepared to enter his final season under his original three-year deal.

Just as the old regime (Larry Bird) did for Frank Vogel, Pacers President Kevin Pritchard is extending McMillan’s contract so that he’s not coaching in the final year of his contract.

Clippers’ Doc Rivers, Sixers’ Brett Brown, and Warriors’ Steve Kerr each received contract extensions this offseason as they approached their final season under contract.

The Pacers reached agreement with McMillan on a two-year extension that will keep him at the head of the bench through the 2020-21 season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This follows the usual, quiet script around Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Coach McMillan, who turns 54 on Friday (Aug. 3) was happy to discuss the newcomers to the roster and the summer league team in Las Vegas last month, but when I asked him about possibly landing this contract extension, which was expected, he declined to comment.

“We’ll always have conversations with people,” [laughs] Pritchard told a week later when asked whether it was a priority to extend McMillan’s deal.

“Nate and our coaches had a hell of a year last year. I already know Nate, I already know our coaches. I’m confident with them. They’re good people, they’re good human beings, they work their tails off. I’ve never seen a staff as diligent and as hard working as them. So, I have a lot of faith and trust in their ability long term.”

Pacers, Nate McMillan

Nate McMillan with his staff at NBA Summer League.

The Pacers wildly overachieved this past season, going 48-34 and stretching the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games. McMillan is 90-74 during his two-year stint as coach of the Pacers.

“A lot of people didn’t really give us a chance and they came in, they worked hard, they worked together,” McMillan said after their Game 7 loss in Cleveland. “… We created a culture with our organization that we will continue to build and it’s all because of the men that we had in the locker room. It was a special group. I looked forward to coming to practice every single day seeing these guys and working with them. And that’s the kind of group we want.”

That’s impressive considering the amount of turnover that has gone on inside their locker room. Myles Turner, the Pacers’ 2015 first-round pick is the longest-tenured player on the roster. He and Thad Young are the only two players who remain from the 2016-17 season, McMillan’s first since taking over for Vogel. And eight of 16 players are no longer in the NBA.

That’s life in the NBA. And McMillan will soon sign a freshly-printed contract that will provide him with job security.

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