NBA AM: Is McMillan The Next Head Coach?
Looking To Coach: The end of the line for any NBA coach is tough. What tends to start as promise and upside usually ends in finger pointing and disappointment.
For Nate McMillan, the end in Portland is really the beginning of something new elsewhere, as McMillan is considered one of the top coaches on the free agent market. Which means he’ll have a number of options to consider.
Most are assuming McMillan wants a “win-now” situation.
“Not necessarily,” McMillan explained to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com. “The plan in Portland, when I got there was to rebuild and we were lucky to draft some really good players. Injuries just put a damper on things. Coaching is coaching. It would be a new beginning for me. Young team or a veteran team….If you’re saying, ‘I’m just looking for a veteran team,’ that’s not true.
“[It] depends on the opportunity. It takes two to agree to a deal and we’ll see whenever that happens. I won’t just take anything, it will depend on the situation.”
The end for McMillan in Portland was multi-fold, so understanding what the team is trying to do going in is what matters tremendously to McMillan.
“Wherever I end up at, I want to know the team’s game plan going in and how to execute as an organization,” McMillan said. “If it makes sense and that plan makes sense to me and it fits, you accept it and go for it.”
McMillan last coached on March 14th in an embarrassing 121-79 loss to the New York Knicks. McMillan has been away from the game for roughly 54 days and says not much has changed in his process.
“I’m treating this time I have like I would at the end of any other NBA season. This new transition is basically off-season for me. I’ve moved on. You have to,” McMillan said.
The Portland Trail Blazers have endured some nasty injuries, including an Achilles tear by McMillan in 2009, which had him hobbling on crutches for most of the season.
McMillan says he is not concerned about how possible new teams view the volume injuries Portland endured. He joked that he didn’t think the injury bug would follow him to his next team.
“Injuries are part of it,” explained McMillan. “The last few years have been rough for me as a coach, but it’s something that every coach experiences in their career. Hopefully, we won’t lose any more guys because I’m looking forward to going to London and getting together with the guys again.”
McMillan plans to look at new coaching jobs this off-season, but admitted that television as a fall back was not likely going to happen.
“I don’t see myself as a TV guy, but you never know,” McMillan said. “You never say never. Maybe an appearance or two. I’m a coach.”
McMillan has been linked to the open head coaching position in Charlotte and as a possible replacement for Stan Van Gundy in Orlando should the team opt to remove him at seasons end.
Too Early For 50-50: Over the weekend ESPN.com’s Marc Stein dropped a little ditty that’s gotten a lot of attention, suggesting that the Dallas Mavericks have a “50-50” shot at signing Deron Williams in July.
One source well-acquainted with Williams’ thinking told ESPN.com this weekend that the Mavericks, in their current state, have no better than a “50-50 shot” of getting D-Will’s signature in July … despite the fact that the Nets aren’t any closer to landing Howard than they are.
Once this story hit the mainstream, more than a few sources near the Nets, Williams and the Mavericks cautioned how much to read into the comment, pointing out that Deron has a short list of situations he will consider, but his ultimate decision will be based on what the roster and situation of the perspective teams looks like in July.
The Nets understand that to get Deron’s signature on a new deal they will have to overhaul their roster. That will start with the May 30th NBA Draft lottery.
If the Nets can swing some lottery luck and jump into the top 3, that draft pick could represent a significant player or better yet a significant trade chip.
The Mavericks will be active around the draft as well, specifically looking at situations to offload cap dollars or swap contract dollars for better fitting young pieces.
Mavs’ forward Shawn Marion had a great season on both ends of the floor and there is a sense that Dallas can and likely will look to offload his remaining two years and $17.46 million in salary.
The Orlando Magic will also have some tough decisions to make this summer as well, with Magic owner Rich DeVos telling Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel – “We have to keep the big man.”. Which means either they are looking at massive trades to upgrade or the inevitability of moving Dwight Howard if they cannot improve.
Sources close to the process say Deron Williams plans to be thorough and very analytical when it comes to his next deal and that more than a few teams will get a chance to sell him on their situation. So 50-50? It might be a little early to call it that. It seems there are a number of situations that could be called 50-50 at this point.
Our guy Larry Coon has completed his new CBA FAQ, an in-depth breakdown of the new NBA Collective Barging Agreement. Larry explains how all the mechanics of the CBA work – check out the newest revision here: www.cbafaq.com
Get Out The Butter?: The Orlando Magic came charging back in Game 4 in Orlando Saturday erasing a 19-point deficit to force overtime, but even the heroics in the fourth quarter couldn’t force a win and now the Magic face elimination on Tuesday in Indiana.
The Magic, who have adopted the playoff Slogan “We All We Got”, have only Game 5 left.
“Go to Indiana and get a win. That’s the only thing we can do,” explained Magic captain Jameer Nelson. “We got to go up there and we’ve proven that we can do it, at this point it’s just one game at a time. You aren’t going to get two wins at one time. You have to get one win and that’s what we have to do. “
The Magic have endured a circus of a season and Jason Richardson doesn’t see his team laying down Tuesday.
“I’m proud to be a part of this team.,” Richardson said. “The way that we persevered through everything that we had to deal with and you know we just keep coming. Like you said, there are no moral victories but I am proud that we haven’t used any excuses. We haven’t packed it in and we haven’t gone home.”
“It’s going to take everybody. Everybody on the bench, everybody that’s got anything to do with the game regardless of who gets in, we need everybody.”
Can the Magic steal another win in Indiana?
“I definitely believe that,” said Richardson. “We’ve proven we can win in their building and we just have to go there and do it.”
Game 5 is set for Tuesday at 7pm EST and will air on NBATV.
IN RELATED: Magic star Dwight Howard might be stuck in LA rehabbing, but has tried to stay involved with the Magic’s playoff push texting and calling his teammates and even interacting with head coach Stan Van Gundy.
“Just a little sad that I can’t be in Orlando with my teammates in the playoffs,” Howard said to TMZ.
“I went back and forth with the doctor for a couple of days. He just said, ‘Dwight I need you to stay here, I don’t need you to go back home, I don’t need you traveling on the plane … anything.’”
“I feel like I’m in jail,” Dwight said. “I just really wish I could be there for my teammates.”
“They need me and I need them. Just to get back. I have been talking to the guys after each and every game supporting them… me and Stan have talked a bunch of times since the playoffs have started. I have just been trying to support the guys as much as possible.”
Howard also explained the nature of his injury, which has been a constant source of speculation.
“I had a herniated disc,” explained Howard. “The doctor is one of the best doctors in the world. He told me this was the biggest fragment he had seen. He’s been doing this for over 20-something years. He said that I had to have that removed.”
“I have never been a quitter my whole life. I have played through many injuries. This is just one I couldn’t play through.”
“I would never quit on my team. I would never quit on my fans. I would never quit on anybody… my coach… whoever it is. I have never been a quitter. Just for people to say that, it hurts.”
“I understand. I am not there. I am not able to talk and tell my side. So people are going to assume and make up stories. That’s OK. Anybody who has bad things to say about me. I forgive them.”
Howard is expected to miss the 2012 Olympics in London, but assuming his recovery stays on track he should be ready for on court work in Late July and August and be ready for training camp in October.
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