This is the "new voice" to which Larry Bird referred on the day he fired/did not fire Frank Vogel? This guy?
This is not a new voice, this Nate McMillan. You know what this is?
It's that old SNL skit in which Chevy Chase plays the Landshark, trying to talk his way into his victim's apartment by claiming to be different people. But in the end, they're all just him. The Landshark.
Nate McMillan, in the same vein, is just Nate McMillan, who's been in Indianapolis for three years. Which is interesting, because Bird said, on the day he fired/did not fire Vogel, that three years was usually the maximum an NBA coach could hold his players' attention. Thus the whole "new voice" meme.
And thus an outbreak of wrinkled brows over this hire, because it's not a new voice but one the Pacers have already been hearing for three years. Which means, by Bird's own measure, the expiration date on McMillan has already expired.
Now, granted, being an assistant and being a head coach are two different things. But when you advance the idea that you're looking for fresh blood, and then hire the guy down the hall ... well, some puzzlement is to be expected. Or perhaps an out-and-out chorus of "What the hell?"
More WTH: While Bird has expressed a desire for the Pacers to play more up-tempo, McMillan, like Vogel, comes in with a reputation as a defensive-minded coach. And while Vogel departed with a 250-181 (.580) regular-season record in six seasons, McMillan went 478-452 (.511) in 12 seasons as a head coach in Seattle and Portland.
What the hell?
Plainly, this is no splashy hire; it's more a barely-a-ripple hire. And it makes you wonder if McMillan is actually a front man, put in place as a clever bit of misdirection so Bird can indulge a rumored coaching jones away from the glare of the spotlight.
Hey. It's a theory.
Grassy Knoll. Magic Bullet. You pick.