McMillan, who led the
SuperSonics to the Northwest Division title this past season, was hired by the Blazers late Wednesday night. He
will be introduced Thursday at a news conference, the Blazers said
in a statement.
Blazers aggressively pursued him.
McMillan's departure comes a day after Seattle signed All-Star
free agent Ray Allen to a five-year, $80 million contract
"Our last compensation discussion detailed a proposal that on
average would have made Nate one of the five highest-paid active
NBA coaches," Sonics president Wally Walker said in a statement.
"While we made him a fair offer, we in no way begrudge Nate's
ability to earn more than we could offer.
"Our respect and affection for Nate will not waver, no matter
how paradoxical that he is moving to our Northwest rival."
McMillan was believed to be the Blazers' No. 1 choice all along, with the team also talking to former Blazers player and Bucks ex-coach Terry Porter and Phoenix assistant Marc Iavaroni.
The Blazers appeared close to offering the job to Iavaroni in late June, with the caveat that they first wanted a shot at luring McMillan away from the SuperSonics. The New York Times reported Sunday that Portland is offering McMillan an annual salary of $6 million.
McMillan replaces interim coach Kevin Pritchard, who took over
for the fired Maurice Cheeks when the Blazers embarked on a youth
movement in midseason. Cheeks was 162-139 in three-plus seasons
McMillan had coached the Sonics since Nov. 27, 2000, and
compiled a 212-183 record. McMillan spent his entire 12-year
playing career with the Sonics.
Not much was expected of the Sonics this season, but McMillan
led them to 52 wins and they took the San Antonio Spurs to six
games in the Western Conference semifinals.
"We are feeling a mixture of pride in his accomplishments as
the head coach of the Sonics and sorrow that he will not be a part
of our organization going forward," Walker said.
"The pride stems from seeing his evolution in becoming a head
coach less than five years ago to becoming a candidate for coach of
the year this past year. He will be missed."
McMillan comes to a team that has lost its way recently after
being one of the NBA's most consistent franchises. The Trail
Blazers have missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, snapping
a streak of 21 straight postseason appearances.
The team finished last season with a 27-55 record, its worst
mark in 31 years, and even saw its attendance decline.
Off the court, Trail Blazers players have faced accusations
ranging from drug use to dogfighting.
The Blazers are trying to rebuild around young players such as forward Zach Randolph, who only played 46 games last season because of injuries but was the team's leading scorer. Portland has also drafted high school players in the first round of the draft the past three years with Travis Outlaw, Sebastian Telfair and Martell Webster, the Blazers' first pick this year.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.