Reggie Miller shares his take on Larry Bird turning to Nate McMillan

Reggie Miller calls the Pacers' Nate McMillan a "solid hire."

Reggie Miller calls the Pacers’ Nate McMillan a “solid hire.”

Reggie Miller spent his entire career — all 18 seasons — playing for the Pacers in Indianapolis. He still has a strong affinity for the city and he has many friends inside the organization.

But the Hall of Famer’s team has taken some backlash, from fans and league-wide observers alike, for Larry Bird’s decision not to retain Frank Vogel after five and a half seasons and for replacing him with Nate McMillan, the team’s associate head coach for three of those years.

[Click here to listen to McMillan’s introductory press conference with Larry Bird]

McMillan is 51 and has coached 930 games (478-452) as a head coach in The Association for almost 12 seasons, five with Seattle and seven with Portland.

Miller, who’s the color analyst for TNT’s coverage of the Western Conference Finals, was on a media conference call Tuesday and so of course he was asked about the Pacers’ coaching changes made over the last two weeks.

Read his full comments below:

“Well, I’ve heard and read some of people kind of scratching their heads on the hiring of Nate McMillan from Larry Bird. Number one, we don’t know the inner-workings of what has gone on behind the scenes. I think only time will tell. I think why people are scratching their head is because of the comments from Larry of the players need to hear a new voice so people are assuming a brand new coach is coming in to be that voice.

“And number two, that the offense has to be a little bit more efficient. Well, when you hire Nate McMillan, who was a defensive player and a defensive coach with Seattle and Portland, that’s why people are like, ‘Well, that’s not a new voice and how is that going to improve the offense?’

“With Kevin Pritchard, who is very familiar with Nate McMillan, I think this is a solid hire. I think if anyone knows the pulse of that team, it’s the guy that’s been there the last three years. And, I think there’s going to be a wrinkle in the offense and we’ve got to give Larry some type of leash.

“Again, the results will be what happens obviously next year and the years to come, but we’ve got to have a sample size and see what goes on first before we can actually comment.

“Yeah, it’s somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction because if you stack up the numbers of Vogel and McMillan, obviously Vogel has the better numbers. But, let’s just take a breath, take a step back, and let’s freeze a little bit and see where it goes.”

Story on the hire: Pacers go old-school, seek accountability in promoting Nate McMillan to head coach

(Reggie was asked about Bird’s choice in McMillan a second time and he added to his initial response.)

“I know a lot of people are scratching their heads just because of the comments that Larry made, in terms of the coaching change — that he felt that the players needed to hear a different voice but yet you hire a guy who was sitting next to Frank Vogel.

“And you wanted more offense, but yet you hire a coach who was a defensive player — a hell of a defensive player — in Nate McMillan and was a defensive coach with Seattle and Portland. But Kevin Pritchard and Larry Bird, we don’t know all the behind-the-scenes action that’s been going on and I think we just need to pause and take a step back, and let this transaction happen first before we make comments.

“Nate’s been around the block and been around this league a long time and he understands what he’s doing. As well as Larry. Maybe this is the voice that Paul George and Monta Ellis and Myles Turner needed. So, yes, I for one am going to take a step back, survey, and see where this is headed.

“Of course people are going to be like, ‘Well, you could’ve kept Vogel for that.’ But, we just have to step back and see what’s going on.”

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