The Detroit Pistons have scheduled a Tuesday interview with Nate McMillan, reports ESPN's Marc Stein, citing unnamed "NBA coaching sources." McMillan was already named the "front-runner" for Detroit's vacant head coaching position last week by the New York Daily News.
McMillan has a career 478-452 record (.514) over parts of 12 years with the Seattle Supersonics and Portland Trail Blazers. Although he's generally regarded as the best NBA coach currently without a job, he's been passed over several times since Portland fired him 43 games into the 2011-12 season. From Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge:
Last summer, McMillan interviewed for the Charlotte Bobcats' job that eventually went to Mike Dunlap, who has since been fired. McMillan interviewed with the Orlando Magic and was reportedly a "top choice" but Jacque Vaughn took over for the fired Stan Van Gundy instead. In November, McMillan was linked to a possible assistant coach's job with the Los Angeles Lakers under Mike D'Antoni, following Mike Brown's dismissal, but that did not materialize. He was linked as a possible candidate to replace the fired Avery Johnson with the Brooklyn Nets, but interim coach P.J. Carlesimo has coached out this season.
Many people thought McMillan would postpone accepting a position this offseason until the fate of the Sacramento Kings was known, given that he's still attached to Seattle and remains a fan favorite. But after the NBA's relocation committee unanimously voted against recommending a move Monday, that door looks closed for at least another year.
Regardless, after talking with McMillan, the Pistons are expected to interview former Pistons point guard Lindsey Hunter later in the week, Stein says. The only news here is the timing; Hunter, still technically employed by the Phoenix Suns, revealed last week that he sought and received permission to interview with the Pistons.
Update: Vincent Goodwill reports that the Pistons already interviewed Hunter on Monday.
Update to the update:
Detroit GM Joe Dumars met with Nate McMillan in N.C. last week, sources say. Ownership expected to be involved in formal interview today.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 30, 2013
What's not clear, though, is whether or not McMillan will be the first candidate to officially interview for the position. Pistons assistant GM George David and legendary Serbian coach Zeljko Obradovic were scheduled to cross paths last weekend when David traveled to Greece to scout 18-year-old draft prospect Giannis Adetokunbo.
Obradovic has been linked to the Pistons' job by the European press, but it's unclear whether Detroit has legitimate interest or if his candidacy has been overstated. If it's the former, I'd imagine David and Obradovic took advantage of being on the same continent to discuss the job -- but right now that's purely a guess.
One more thing
Last but not least, Stein dropped this nugget:
Another candidate known to interest Detroit is Houston Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson, who is projected in coaching circles to be a candidate for the Milwaukee Bucks' job when the Rockets' playoff run is over.
This counters what Vince Ellis said last week when he reported, "It appears that Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson won’t have a chance at the Pistons job." Ellis doubled-down on that sentiment late Monday night, writing:
The ESPN.com report says Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson is interested in the Pistons job, but he doesn't appear to be a part of the Pistons' plans.
It seems Stein and Ellis are leaning on difference sources. Sampson sounds like an intriguing candidate, so I'd hope he's still in the picture (even if he's not my first overall choice). If you're curious about his Milwaukee connection: he spent three season as an assistant with the Bucks before joining Kevin McHale's staff in Houston.
Now your thoughts.