INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers promoted assistant Nate McMillan to head coach on Monday, ending the search for Frank Vogel's replacement after less than two weeks.
McMillan spent 12 seasons as the head coach in Seattle and Portland, going 478-452 in the regular season and 14-20 in the playoffs.
He was hired by Vogel in 2013 and spent the past three seasons with the Pacers, where he developed relationships with the players and president of basketball operations Larry Bird. McMillan already had a bond with Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard from their days in Portland.
Bird announced May 5 that Vogel would not be retained after his contract expired and that he believed the Pacers needed to hear a different voice in the locker room. Bird found his man just a few seats down the bench from Vogel.
"It's not like you have to get up in players' faces and yell and scream anymore," Bird said. "But you do have to have control and I think Nate will do that."
When Bird initially made the announcement, he said he had a list of candidates in mind for the job. But at the NBA draft combine in Chicago on Friday, he told reporters that he had not yet begun interviewing candidates and reports surfaced over the weekend that the Pacers and McMillan were nearing a deal.
McMillan, who spent all 12 of his seasons as a player in Seattle, seemed an unlikely choice given Bird's parameters.
During the May 5 news conference, Bird implied he was looking for a hard-nosed, offensive-minded coach who could get more out of his players. McMillan has instead been known more for preaching defense than offense and played a part in vocalizing Vogel's message.
McMillan takes over a team with growing expectations.
Indiana has been to the playoffs in five of the last six seasons, reached the 2013 and 2014 Eastern Conference finals and came within one win this season of advancing to the conference semifinals for the fourth time in five years.
McMillan will continue to build around Paul George, the 26-year-old three-time All-Star who played well in his first season back from a gruesome broken right leg.
He also will be able to work closely with promising forward Myles Turner, something that may have played a key part in Bird's selection. McMillan helped LaMarcus Aldridge go from promising rookie to All-Star in Portland, and the Pacers are hoping he can do the same thing with the former Texas star who was often compared to Aldridge after declaring early for last year's NBA draft.
"I think some of us coaches who were coaching at that time (2005), they called us old school and there is a lot of old school in me," McMillan said. "But I do understand you have to adapt with this generation of players, which we call the millennials, and how you communicate with them."