Nate McMillan's task as the new head coach of the Indiana Pacers next season will be quite simple; to implement the uptempo offensive style of play that president Larry Bird is desperate to see.
McMillan replaced former head coach Frank Vogel soon after the Pacers were eliminated from the playoffs last season as Bird decided the team needed a new voice and a new direction.
This will be the 52-year-old's first head coaching role since he left the Portland Trail Blazers in 2012 and if he succeeds in making Indiana a faster team, with the players they have, they could be one of the teams to watch in the Eastern Conference.
The hopes of the franchise will once again fall on the shoulders of superstar Paul George, who enjoyed a terrific season after coming back from a horrible leg break the previous year, and the small forward has expressed his excitement at what is on the horizon in Indianapolis.
“I feel good,” George told ProBasketballTalk. “Larry has put it on display that he wants to get us back to the Eastern Conference [playoffs], see where we can take it from there.”
To help McMillan breed a faster offence, the Pacers have made some notable moves, in particular, the acquisition of point guard Jeff Teague from the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team trade which saw George Hill head to the Utah Jazz.
Hill was always a reliable two-way guard for Indiana but Teague will be more of an attacker, which George feels will benefit his game.
“What makes Jeff so great is his ability to attack the basket,” George said. “That opens up the game so much more for me and allows me to be a spacer. I’m looking forward to that, looking forward to making him an All-Star.”
The Pacers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Toronto Raptors in seven games and were more than a match for the eventual Eastern Conference finalists.
They will now have serious aspirations of providing a sterner challenge to the top teams in the east once again in the upcoming season.