INDIANAPOLIS–In his postseason press conference Monday morning, Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard discussed the firing of Nate McMillan, looking ahead to the future, and what he’s looking for in his next head coach.
McMillan was given a contract extension on August 12. On August 26, McMillan was fired after the Pacers were swept by the Miami Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference Finals.
“I don’t really want to go into the particulars because I respect Nate so much. What I will tell you is we want to be better than getting swept in the playoffs. I wanted to have some hope that we could win a game. Our best game against them was 9 points and it didn’t even feel that close,” said Pritchard in a Zoom call Monday.
McMillan apologized for the team’s shortcomings after the season.
“I really appreciated Nate saying it was his responsibility. At the end of the day, this is a team that I put together, and it’s my responsibility,” said Pritchard.
Pritchard’s next responsibility is finding the next head coach for the Pacers. One of the people he has spoken to is a former Indiana Pacer.
“I had a long conversation this morning with David West,” said Pritchard.
West played for the Pacers from 2011-2015 and helped the team reach the Eastern Conference Finals two of those years. Pritchard said they are considering a lot of different possibilities when looking at who to hire to be the next head coach.
“We could go with experience. We could go with an up and comer. We could go outside the box. We tapped into (Indianapolis Colts General Manager) Chris Ballard and he shared some things with us with the hiring of their coach. I thought that was some terrific feedback,” said Pritchard.
Then there is the matter of Pacers guard Victor Oladipo who has just one year remaining on his contract.
“It’s easy to jump the gun and say, ‘you have to do something.’ But I want to have a good relationship with him. He made a huge sacrifice in him coming back to the bubble to play. So we don’t feel any rush to make any quick decision on Victor,” said Pritchard.
Oladipo ruptured his quad tendon in January 2019 against the Toronto Raptors. He made his return to NBA action on January 29, 2020 against Chicago and helped the Pacers beat Chicago in overtime. Oladipo initially announced that he would sit out during the restart of the NBA season, but ultimately committed to playing. Oladipo has been an All-Star twice.
“I have not heard anything other than that he wants to be here….I will take that at face (value),” said Pritchard.
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