Kevin Pritchard had a change of heart, and it only took 14 days.
On August 12th the Pacers announced a one-year extension for Nate McMillan. Exactly two weeks later Pritchard pulled the plug.
Getting swept in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year was likely the final straw, but perhaps firing McMillan had more to do with the president of basketball operations in Indiana having his eye on someone else.
Let’s examine a few names in the running to become the next Indiana Pacers head coach.
Pacers Next Head Coach Odds
Jeff Van Gundy+1000
Wes Unseld Jr.+1000
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Despite bunched up odds that are dispersed among several candidates, there’s a clear favorite in the house. From the time the announcement to fire McMillan was made, it took a grand total of two minutes for Adrian Wojnarowski to drop the following “Woj Bomb.”
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni — in the final year of his contract — will be an Indiana target should he become available, sources tell ESPN.
ESPN analyst Mark Jackson could certainly be sought out, as could his colleague Jeff Van Gundy. Jackson played four seasons for the Pacers while Larry Bird was coaching (1997-2000), and remember, Bird serves as a special advisor to Kevin Pritchard.
JVG is as knowledgeable as anyone is about today’s game, but he hasn’t coached since 2007 and seems incredibly content calling the action from his current vantage point.
I’m a huge fan of Kenny Atkinson and Jason Kidd, but rumors are Indy will pursue a “program builder” in the event that D’Antoni turns them down.
In other words, the ball’s in your court, Mike.
Mike D’Antoni +200
It’s a little early to start speculating on D’Antoni’s future in Houston – after all, the Rockets are in the midst of a playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Then again, Mike turned down an extension offer last offseason and could very well be ready for a change of scenery. The hang-up in bringing the 69-year-old to Indianapolis could come during the negotiations.
Mike is a prominent figure in the NBA head coaching ranks and will demand top-dollar wherever he goes. The Pacers are a small-market team playing in a small-market city, plus their revenue numbers are way, way down.
As much as Indiana would love to latch onto D’Antoni, they may not have the capital to make a deal work.
Adrian Griffin +600
Griffin has been lauded for the work he’s put in alongside Nick Nurse in Toronto. At 46 years old now with 13 years under his belt as a full-time assistant, Griffin fits the bill of Pritchard targeting an -up-and-coming figure. He also would come at a massive discount compared to D’Antoni, and he’d be a lot cheaper than Tyronn Lue or Brett Brown.
Just like with D’Antoni, though, there’s an elephant in the room that could prevent the Pacers from pulling the trigger.
Involved in a domestic dispute with his ex-wife, Adrian is facing some undesirable allegations that could be enough to make the Pacers organization steer clear. A tricky predicament, to say the least.
Ime Udoka +800
Ime Udoka is almost certain to land a head coaching gig ahead of the 2020/2021 campaign. The Sixers may be interested in promoting their top assistant to the front of the line, and the Pelicans are most likely going to seek out an interview.
Schooled by Greg Popovich, Ime is a defensive-minded guy who knows how to get the most out of his bigs. Considering the promise of Myles Turner and Domas Sabonis, I have to think Udoka would be licking his chops at an opportunity to coach the Pacers.
Next Pacers Head Coach Prediction
The writing is on the wall in Houston.
Unless the Rockets make some serious noise and go deep into the playoffs, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which D’Antoni returns. At the same time, turning 70 next May means Mike doesn’t have the luxury to sit around and wait. He’s staring at one final stint before he hangs his suits up for good.
Letting James Harden run the show and transforming to an incredibly small lineup, there’s just not enough to compete in the West. My gut tells me D’Antoni is ready for a new challenge.
For example – being appointed as the next head coach of the Pacers.
In the end, the thought of going young and hiring an aspiring assistant isn’t nearly as alluring as securing a proven commodity.
As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.
Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.