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Thread: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

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    Default Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    I find this fascinating. But then, most of you aren't coaching groupies, so you probably won't.

    McMillan's move about more than money

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    Mike Kahn / Special to FOXSports.com
    Posted: 18 hours ago





    This is for all the lonely fired head coaches, thinking that NBA life has passed them by.

    Nate McMillan proved why you never give up.Believe whatever you want, but when McMillan told the world Wednesday night he was turning down the four-year, $18 million offer from the Seattle SuperSonics to accept what is believed to be a five-year, $30 million deal to move down I-5 to coach the loathed Portland Trail Blazers, it was not just about the difference in money.

    It was about respect, or a lack thereof from the Sonics.

    Sure, his heart is in Seattle, just not with the Sonics.

    With Nate McMillan now in Portland, the Northwest Division is full of coaches with former ties to the Sonics. (Jeff Reinking / Getty Images)


    McMillan and his wife Michelle became adults there. Drafted in the second round of the 1986 draft, it's the only NBA organization he has worked for 12 as a player, the last seven as a coach. And it's been the last four-plus seasons as head coach that the bitter reality of having to leave sunk in.

    It came to a head on media day last October before the 2004-05 season would begin. It was a season with a virtual lame duck team starting with general manager Rick Sund, the entire coaching staff and eight players, including superstar Ray Allen. But it had begun 19 months earlier when his former teammate and friend Gary Payton was traded with Desmond Mason to Milwaukee for Allen, Kevin Ollie, Flip Murray and a first-round draft choice.

    It ended up being a good trade, but it was the beginning of mixed messages that nearly destroyed a first-time head coach in McMillan. The move transformed the Sonics from a defensive-oriented team to no identity at all, with this lack of direction at the heart of why they had missed the playoffs four out of six years their worst run in 30 years.

    So when owner Howard Schultz and team president Wally Walker had the gall to tell the media they expected to be in the 2005 playoffs with this lame duck team that was virtually unchanged from the 37-45 group of the previous season, McMillan knew he was being set up. His associate head coach, Dwane Casey knew it too. This came a few months after the drafting of high school center Robert Swift, whom they had never even seen play.

    It was not lost on McMillan nor Casey, both of whom are African-American, that the Sonics had just had four No. 1 picks over the past three drafts in the top 14. All four of those picks were white players.

    "I just feel bad for Nate," Casey said at media day. "He doesn't deserve this."

    Trumpeted as "Mr. Sonic," by the Sonics marketing department, his No. 10 jersey in the rafters, it was a horrid time for McMillan. When approached by the cameras and throng of reporters, he said he was going into the season with the idea of making the playoffs too. But his eyes told a different story for those who know him well.

    Minutes later, he had to leave the gym and get some fresh air.

    He was hot physically and mentally.

    "Can you believe that bleep?" McMillan said. "I guess I should at this point. There is no trust at all."

    He already knew it, though. That just happened to be the day it became public and McMillan began preparing himself to leave the Sonics.

    It made him sick the way Payton a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer and best player in franchise history was run out of town by ownership with rude commentary to the media. The makeup of the team was changing so fast, along with marching orders regarding whom to play; he lost his sense of balance. Often times during the 2003-04 season that ended with their worst record in 17 years, you could even see it on Michelle McMillan's face.

    "This is just killing Nate," she said. "I don't know how much longer he can do this."

    He contemplated resigning, but McMillan, 40, is anything but a quitter. Not the guy who played on horribly arthritic knees his entire career. So on this unseasonably warm October day outside the Sonics practice facility, McMillan put his jacket back on, stuck his chin out and marched back in.

    Eight months later, he had coached the Sonics to a 52-win season, a Northwest Division title and into the sixth game of the conference semifinals with a physically fractured but mentally tough team against the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.

    He didn't prove ownership to be right about the team. He proved them wrong about himself (finishing second in coach of the year vote), Casey, and what the future would hold. Midway through the extraordinary season that shocked the NBA, the front office started making noise about a contract extension.

    That was a laugh.

    Oh, now they want an extension.

    His agent, Lonnie Cooper, said thanks but no thanks. Funny how quickly the tables had turned. He knew teams would line up after the season was over. The buzz was out there quickly from Cleveland, Minnesota, Detroit, the Los Angeles Lakers, just to name a few. And all the while Blazers owner Paul Allen was sitting in his Lake Washington compound some 15 minutes from KeyArena watching this happen to McMillan up close while rebuilding his young team.

    But Walker wouldn't give McMillan permission to talk to anybody until just a few days before his contract ended June 30. Meanwhile, they did allow Casey to interview in Portland and Minnesota, and the Timberwolves hired him. Not incidentally, Casey took another top Sonics assistant, Dean Demopoulos, with him.

    None of it mattered to McMillan. On the night of the June 28 draft, he played it cool. With most of Seattle convinced his heart and inherent loyalty would prevent him from leaving, there was something about his demeanor. He wouldn't talk about his coaching status as he was hustled in and out of the media room.

    He just winked in a stolen moment and said, "You never know."

    When Allen agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal Tuesday, most assumed that McMillan's deal was done too. Not so. They were always mutually exclusive. The two respected each other as a coach and star player, but there was frequent friction over a number of issues. Besides, Allen is an offensive player. McMillan is grounded in defense. They never quite clicked.

    But that's not why Wednesday night the Sonics began their hunt for a new coach while McMillan was preparing himself to be introduced Thursday in Portland's Washington Park. Whether the Sonics hire Marc Iavaroni, Terry Porter, P.J. Carlesimo or somebody else, doesn't matter. Ironically, Casey was his logical successor and now he's in Minnesota with Demopoulos.

    And that's why this story isn't about money.

    This is about how NBA teams, circa 2005, don't respect their coaches.

    This is about how coaches too often take the fall for spoiled star players.

    This is about how coaches are hung out to dry by upper management covering their posteriors.

    This is about how the Sonics will have a new coach facing in his own division: McMillan in Portland, Casey in Minnesota and that's not to mention Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, who was also run out of town in an unkindly fashion by Walker.

    It won't be pretty.

    In other words, hail to the legion of NBA coaches. They deserved this and a lot more.

    Veteran NBA writer Mike Kahn is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com.

    Come to the Dark Side -- There's cookies!

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Me thinks Seattle is in trouble. Nate may not turn Portland around this season, but if he gets the young guys to buy into playing defense they should do o.k. Imagine how good Randoph could be if he gets really motivated.

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    Harmonica
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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Has Allen signed that contract yet?

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    foretaz
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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by Harmonica
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    Has Allen signed that contract yet?
    now...i thought u would know these things........noone signs anything till july 22...if hes smart, he will reconsider....i dont think he really wants to play on a loser the rest of his career

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by foretaz
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    now...i thought u would know these things........noone signs anything till july 22...if hes smart, he will reconsider....i dont think he really wants to play on a loser the rest of his career
    I don't think it matters who the coach is, Ray just wants his money. He'll stay in Seattle.
    You, Never? Did the Kenosha Kid?

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by foretaz
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    now...i thought u would know these things........noone signs anything till july 22...if hes smart, he will reconsider....i dont think he really wants to play on a loser the rest of his career
    Why would I know these things?

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Since when has Ray Allen gave you any indication that he wants to be a winner?

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Yeah, if Ray is "smart," he'll turn down that $85 million offer from seattle and look elsewhere.....

    huh?

    No, the stupid thing would be to re-think signing a deal that's $20 million more than he'll be getting anywhere else.

    Seattle isn't a winner? Huh? Do they not have Ridnour, Lewis, Radmonovic and Allen all coming back? Exactly how are they not a winner?

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    Harmonica
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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Here we go again.

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    They have yet to resign Radmonovic. Not to mention they need to sign/replace James, and Daniels. If they don't make the right moves they could backslide in a hurry. Especially if the Lakers and Minnisota get better.

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by SycamoreKen
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    They have yet to resign Radmonovic. Not to mention they need to sign/replace James, and Daniels. If they don't make the right moves they could backslide in a hurry. Especially if the Lakers and Minnisota get better.

    They've made a qualifyng offer to Radmonovic. They can match any offer for him.

    James and Daniels aren't going to make the difference between them winning 52 games and not making the playoffs.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Who is going to play center if they don't sign James? Swift? Also, Daniels played big in their playoff run. Their ownership seems to be on the cheap side, so will they be willing to pay what they need to keep the team competitive.

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Why did Kahn have to throw in the race card? *sigh*

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by SycamoreKen
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    Who is going to play center if they don't sign James? Swift? Also, Daniels played big in their playoff run. Their ownership seems to be on the cheap side, so will they be willing to pay what they need to keep the team competitive.
    Who played center for them last year? Jerome James? It's not like it will matter much. I'd rather get Swift some game experience than re-sign that bum.

    Any team with Ridnour, Lewis, Radmonovic and Allen will be competitive. They will have their 4 best players back, and two of them are all-stars. The rest can be replaced. They'll lose a little depth in Daniels, but that's it.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    seattle needs to trade lewis for 2-3 quality players. i've watched for 4 years as seattle has had this quandry at SF. lewis and radmanovic play the same position. i like lewis but radmanovic is solid too and cheaper, he needs to be starting. lewis' value is pretty high right now and seattle needs some depth really badly......it would also let radmanovic finally start.

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Has Radmonavic come down from that $13 or so million he was asking for in the middle of last season?

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    foretaz
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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat
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    Yeah, if Ray is "smart," he'll turn down that $85 million offer from seattle and look elsewhere.....

    huh?

    No, the stupid thing would be to re-think signing a deal that's $20 million more than he'll be getting anywhere else.

    Seattle isn't a winner? Huh? Do they not have Ridnour, Lewis, Radmonovic and Allen all coming back? Exactly how are they not a winner?

    ummm....it really would behoove u to know what ur talking about once in a while....

    the way a team is able to pay 20 million more is by signing the player to the extra year-the 6th year...

    only one problem....seattle is only signing him for 5 years-which is understandable given his age....

    any team with enuff cap room can basically give allen just what the sonics have given him....u can trust me on this or do ur own math....the hawks can and the cavs couldve and technically still can though im not really sure why they would right now....now going to the hawks is definitely not a winning proposition...

    but then again....neither are the sonics....they just lost their coach....they finished under .500 season before last and appear ready to lose some of their players from this seasons team....

    now while it appears, allen and mcmillan werent on the greatest of terms, it seems unlikely at this point that the cheap ownership will be able to get a quality coach or bring in enuff talent to offset the talent they are going to lose...

    as strange as it sounds, the clippers would very well be a better alternative for allen....though it appears theyve lost simmons, and they are still the clippers, they appear to be in a better position to make the playoffs sometime soon than the sonics....they have brand....they have some great young backcourt talent....and a proven coach....dunleavy may not be the greatest, but hes far from the worst.....

    u put ray allen on the clippers right now and they win more games than the sonics will with ray next year....and the clippers desperately wanted him....and contrary to what u might think, they can pay him what the sonics are paying him....not 20 million less....

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by foretaz
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    ummm....it really would behoove u to know what ur talking about once in a while....

    the way a team is able to pay 20 million more is by signing the player to the extra year-the 6th year...

    only one problem....seattle is only signing him for 5 years-which is understandable given his age....

    any team with enuff cap room can basically give allen just what the sonics have given him....u can trust me on this or do ur own math....the hawks can and the cavs couldve and technically still can though im not really sure why they would right now....now going to the hawks is definitely not a winning proposition...

    but then again....neither are the sonics....they just lost their coach....they finished under .500 season before last and appear ready to lose some of their players from this seasons team....

    now while it appears, allen and mcmillan werent on the greatest of terms, it seems unlikely at this point that the cheap ownership will be able to get a quality coach or bring in enuff talent to offset the talent they are going to lose...

    as strange as it sounds, the clippers would very well be a better alternative for allen....though it appears theyve lost simmons, and they are still the clippers, they appear to be in a better position to make the playoffs sometime soon than the sonics....they have brand....they have some great young backcourt talent....and a proven coach....dunleavy may not be the greatest, but hes far from the worst.....

    u put ray allen on the clippers right now and they win more games than the sonics will with ray next year....and the clippers desperately wanted him....and contrary to what u might think, they can pay him what the sonics are paying him....not 20 million less....
    I don't think that's right, the Sonics get higher pay raises between years of the contract, I think.
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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by SoupIsGood
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    I don't think that's right, the Sonics get higher pay raises between years of the contract, I think.

    it wuld behoove u to know that ur talking abou- oh, you're right. Nevermind.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    foretaz
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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by SoupIsGood
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    I don't think that's right, the Sonics get higher pay raises between years of the contract, I think.
    yes...by about 2%....the 20 million factor comes from the additional year...not the pay raises....

    bottom line is other teams can pay ray allen the 80 million hes getting

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    I never said he couldn't, I said he WOULDN'T get it anywhere else.

    Seattle was willing to give him a lot more at his age than pretty much any other team, and in a shorter amount of years.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    foretaz
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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat
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    I never said he couldn't, I said he WOULDN'T get it anywhere else.

    Seattle was willing to give him a lot more at his age than pretty much any other team, and in a shorter amount of years.
    wrong again...

    you said he was signing with seattle because he could get 20 million more....

    thats wrong....period...

    any team that has cap room can sign him to about 86 million for 5 years....the sonics couldve signed him for over 100 million for 6 years....

    they offered him 75 million for 5 years....

    the clippers offered him a deal for around the max....somewhere around 85 million for 5 years...

    to which seattle, when they found out there were others that would pay allen more, upped their offer to something similar....

    so yes, he could get the same and did have the same money offered....did he use the clippers? yes...happens quite often....but dont say the sonics could have given more than anyone else or they offered far more than anyone else....

    because neither is even close to being true....get ur facts straight...

    now...care for any more discussion??...preferably one that u might know a little bit more about? i actually gave u a chance to provide some insight u might actually have in one of myother posts....it regarded the pistons and larry brown....maybe u should stick with them since u probably know a bit more about them...

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    You, Never? Did the Kenosha Kid?

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    foretaz
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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    i will give credit where credit is due....

    someone made mention ur an aspiring sportswriter....

    if so, u seem to be right on track...should make a pretty good one....

    after all, speaking authoritatively on something you know very little about and use inaccurate facts while hoping arrogance and attitude will disguise the shortcomings, all for the sake of entertainment-these are attributes of some of the very best sportswriters....

    some on here seemed to be entertained....and the inaccurate facts and sometimes lack of knowledge u seem to have down pat.....

    so my friend....i think uve got a great career ahead of u...

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    Default Re: Mike Kahn on why McMillian left Seattle

    That-a-way, Taz. Sometimes if they don't bite at first, you just gotta reel 'er back in, re-bait, and cast out further.
    You, Never? Did the Kenosha Kid?

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