Thursday , Jul , 07 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Trail Blazers name McMillan new coach

Portland, OR (Sports Network) – The Portland Trail Blazers announced that they
have named Nate McMillan the team’s new head coach. As per team policy, terms
of the deal were not disclosed, although reports have the contract being for
five years.

McMillan will be formally introduced as the club’s 11th coach in franchise
history at a 7:30 p.m. (et) press conference on Thursday.

He replaces interim coach Kevin Pritchard, who took over for the fired Maurice
Cheeks during the middle of the season.

The 40-year-old McMillan joins the Trail Blazers after serving as Seattle’s
head coach since November 27, 2000. This past season McMillan guided the
Sonics to a 52-20 record, which included a Northwest Division championship.
Seattle advanced to the Western Conference semifinals before losing in six
games to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.

“We are feeling a mixture of pride in his accomplishments as the head coach of
the Sonics and sorrow that he will not be a part of our organization going
forward,” Sonics president Wally Walker said in a statement. “The pride stems
from seeing his evolution in becoming a head coach less than five years ago to
becoming a candidate for Coach of the Year this past year. He will be missed.”

However, despite the success, his four-year contract was up at season’s end
after the team did not re-sign him during the year.

“Our last compensation discussion detailed a proposal that on average would
have made Nate one of the five highest paid active NBA coaches,” Walker added.
“While we made him a fair offer, we in no way begrudge Nate’s ability to earn
more than we could offer.”

In his four years with the club, he has compiled a regular-season record of
212-183, while going 8-8 in the postseason. McMillan’s departure comes one day
after the Sonics reportedly agreed to terms on a five-year, $85 million
contract extension with Ray Allen.

Under McMillan’s leadership, Seattle reached the playoffs on two occasions, as
it also appeared in the postseason in 2001-02. During that season, McMillan’s
first full campaign as the team’s head coach, the Sonics went 45-37 and earned
the seventh seed in the playoffs, where they lost to San Antonio in five

McMillan spent his entire 12-year playing career in the Emerald City. In 796
career games as a player, McMillan averaged 5.9 points, 6.1 assists and 4.0
rebounds per contest.