Last night at 8:00 pm Nate McMillan left me a message telling me he had accepted the Portland Trailblazers 5 year offer to be their head coach. At the conclusion of the Storm game last night I spoke with Nate for about 10 minutes.
Here is how he explained his decision to move to Portland …..
More than anything else he wanted to thank the fans, thank the city and thank everyone who has given him 19 wonderful years in Seattle.
He said that after 19 years on the same stage it was time for a change. That he had made up his mind at the beginning of the season that it was time to move on. Throughout the year he prepared himself for the end of his time in Seattle. He mentioned that he fore shadowed this at the start of the season when he talk about “his last ride” with the Sonics.
He mentioned that this was an opportunity to see who he is as a head coach. A challenge outside of an organization he knows as well as Seattle.
I asked him what it was that Portland brought to the table. He mentioned an opportunity. He paralleled the Blazers today to where the Sonics were a few years ago. He said that he is young enough to take on the challenge and with a 5 year offer he could make it happen. He did agree that the difference is that Portland has no all-star.
He wouldn’t tell me about how much the contract was worth.
That is the gist of what Nate said. However, my sources out of Portland tell me the money difference between what Nate got from Portland and Seattle is negligible. This is shocking but according to my source the 5th year of the contract is a team option and the money doesn’t surpass six million a year until the final year which is non-guaranteed.
If this is accurate then one week ago when I spoke with Nate and he said it wasn’t about the money he was telling the truth. The difference in the Sonics offer and the Blazers offer is not significant when you account for state income tax.
So how come Nate left? What is really bizarre is that two weeks ago it was reported that the deal was close to being done and the word out of the McMillan camp was that the deal was close to getting done.
His message to me was that he wanted a new challenge. He wanted to prove himself somewhere new and he wanted to prove his value. It is clear that after 19 years of a relationship that scares lingered, no different then any relationship. However, for Nate some of them were significant enough to feel it was time for a change.