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06 July 2005

Money Talks

Nate McMillan is now the coach of the Portland Trailblazers, leaving behind a Sonics team he's been with for the past 17 years. SEA president and CEO Wally Walker had the following to say: "Our last compensation discussion detailed a proposal that on average would have made Nate one of the five highest paid active NBA coaches." Kevin Calabro, Sonics' television broadcaster (and one of the best), mentioned reading an article that stated Paul Allen went so far as to double SEA's offer, which was rumored to be $4-4.5 millon. Wow.

Some people may lambast Nate for forsaking his team; for following the cash. Personally, I think this was a total no-brainer. First of all, yes, I know that $4 million a year is a lot of money. But you know what? $8 million is a lot more. If you say you wouldn't take the extra cash you are either:

A) Lying.
B) Stupid.
C) Already filthy, filthy rich.
D) One of the few remaining ascetic monks in the Pyrenees of Spain. Which means you should stop indulging in the internet. Sinner.

What's even better is that there's no way McMillan can lose. Even if Portland continues to stink; even if their players continue to get arrested or suspended for disabordination; who's going to blame Nate? It will just be the same old Trailblazers. And if they turn it around? Actually manage to make the playoffs in the next two years? Nate's a damn genius. Plus, as Calabro pointed out on the local Fox affiliate, he's only 3 hours away from his home in SEA. He doesn't have to uproot his family or even buy a new house.

And let's be honest; it's not like he was leaving a team on the brink of a championship. Their best player is a 29 year old (30 before the next season starts) shooting guard who's merely an adequate defender and is getting paid $16 million a year for the next five years. They are hemorrhaging money due to a horrible arena deal they cannot get out of. They have a slew of free agents and their best big man as of now is Nick Collison (who I like, but still).

What's really interesting is the timing of the whole thing. Why did Nate wait until the Sonics signed Allen? Based on media reports it was pretty clear that the prevailing feeling was that Nate would return if SEA locked up Ray. Obviously not. What happened?

Did Paul Allen up the ante after Allen's deal was announced?

Or did Nate purposely hold out in order to help Ray get his deal? And if so, why? Out of respect for Ray? Because he was angry at the Sonics for not extending his contract before the season and wanted to make them pay through the nose? You always here that Nate is a defensive-minded coach. Ray Allen is not a defensive-minded player. I would love to believe that Nate didn't think the Sonics would ever win with Ray and therefore baited them into sealing their fate for the next five years. But then again I don't like Ray Allen, so that's probably just a wee bit far-fetched.

ANOTHER issue is that SEA lost their best assistant coach (Casey) to MIN last month. He almost definitely would have had the job (and probably would have wanted it, too). Now the Sonics are almost forced to going out and getting someone like Flip Saunders. It will be real hard to bring a rookie coach into this situation.

Wow. Intentionally or not, Paul Allen and Nate McMillan sure managed to throw a big wrench into SEA's plans.

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.