Posted May 10 2001 12:00AM
Chat transcript: May 15
For the man known in the Emerald City as "Mr. Sonic," where else could Nate McMillan possibly coach but Seattle? McMillan took over the team as interim head coach on Nov. 27 after serving as an assistant coach for the previous two seasons and spending his entire 12-year playing career with the Sonics. On Jan. 5, the Sonics removed the interim status from his title and on March 27, he signed a contract to remain the team's coach for the next four years. "Mr. Sonic" is home to stay.
McMillan guided the Sonics to a 33-25 record (.569), including a season-high six-game winning streak in March. Under his leadership, the Sonics swept their season series 4-0 against the L.A. Lakers for just the second time in franchise history. Despite their late-season success however, Seattle narrowly missed making the playoffs.
But every cloud has a silver lining and this one for the Sonics positively sparkles. Seattle finished the season with a 44-38 overall record -- six games over .500, but as a lottery team, will have a chance at the first overall draft pick at NBA Draft 2001 in June. McMillan will be present in Secaucus, N.J. on Sunday, May 20 to see if the ping pong balls bounce favorably for the Sonics. Granted their strong record gives them only a .6 percent chance of winning the number one pick. But any chance means there's always a chance that MacMillan could leave Secaucus with the possibility of drafting say, Arizona's 7-1 Loren Woods to add to the already successful Sonics.
McMillan talked draft in a live chat on May 15.
Martin Orozco from ccc.edu at 12:58pm ET
Do you think there is any dominent big man at center in the draft?
Nate McMillan at 12:58pm ET
I don't think there are dominant big men. I think all these guys are going to take a while coming out. I like Brandon from North Carolina, who has good skills and spent all four years in school. But I don't think there are dominant big men so to speak.
Craig Hall from nwnexus.net at 12:58pm ET
If you had the chnce to draft Shane Battier would you?
Nate McMillan at 12:59pm ET
I really like Shane Battier. I think he is going to help any team he joins. I think he just has a will to win. He leaves everything out on the floor. He leads by example. That's a good question. We need a guy with some size who can rebound and if Shane is around when we select, we will definitely consider him.
Lorie Sessions from proxy.aol.com at 12:59pm ET
What do you think Loren Woods would bring to the Sonics?
Nate McMillan at 1:00pm ET
He's a shot blocker, a guy with a lot of athletic ability. He's a little thin, but he can clog the middle and disrupt some shots. I'm looking at some tapes on him and the fact that he's a great shot blocker. We need a presence in the paint and that's what he'll bring to any team.
Matt from [188.8.131.52] at 1:00pm ET
What weaknesses will you address first to bring Seattle back into playoff contention next year?
Nate McMillan at 1:01pm ET
I think we need size. The fact that the Western Conference big men means you're looking at facing Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Shaq, Sabonis four times a year. The fact that the guys coming in are young will mean they'll need some time to develop. We're trying to decide if we want to draft younger players or bring in some guys with experience. Those are decisions we have to make before the draft.
Sam from [184.108.40.206] at 1:02pm ET
What is your opinion on Eddie Curry? How high could he go?
Nate McMillan at 1:02pm ET
I haven't seen a lot of tape on him. Now I'm in the process of looking at tape on the guys that are coming out. So I haven't seen a lot of tape on him.
William from [220.127.116.11] at 1:02pm ET
Do any of the high schoolers impress your organization?
Nate McMillan at 1:03pm ET
Again, I think you're looking at a situation where we're already a young team. I think we need some experience. Rashard Lewis will be 21 this year, Desmond is finishing his first year ... we have a very good team already. We're looking at which direction we want to go. Do we want to bring in young guys and let them grow together or do we want to bring in veterans to add to our young players and get them to be competitive?
nick from tnt1.davison.mi.da.uu.net at 1:03pm ET
Do you think Charlie Bell is a lottery pick? Where do you think he will go?
Nate McMillan at 1:04pm ET
I can't say. I like his game. He's a proven winner. I watched him a little in Phoenix a week ago. The guy's a winner. I think he's similar to Shane Battier in that he's had a successful career. I think some guys' games don't stand out as much as what they've done in their career. I think he's a solid guard and that he'll have a successful career.
Adam from [18.104.22.168], at 1:05pm ET
Hey Mr. McMillan how are you? I am a enormous Knicks fan but more so a basketball junky. My team does not have a 1st round pick but i am truely interested in the entire draft. I feel there is talent but "slept on talent". People are refering to this draft as weak but with the likes of Eddie Curry, Eddie Griffin, Jefferson, Richardson, Terrance Morris,Gilbert Arenas, etc. How is it weak? I feel you guys need a big man such as Curry. Curry up front with Jeloni McKoy and Ruben Patterson, and with Des Mason and Shammond or Payton which ever one you guys do keep is not a bad start. How do u feel?
Nate McMillan at 1:06pm ET
I think what they're saying is because of the number of young guys declaring into the draft. I think we have the highest ever high school players coming into the draft. So people are looking at this as a developmental draft. It's been proven that if guys spend four years in college they're much more ready for the NBA than not going to school or spending only a couple years. So it's going to take at least four years, from a coaching standpoint, to develop. So I think that's what people are saying, it's a very young draft.
eric harris from [22.214.171.124] at 1:06pm ET
Would you draft Richard Jefferson from Arizona if he was open?
Nate McMillan at 1:07pm ET
We haven't really talked much about him. Again, I haven't seen tape on him. We're looking for size mostly. We need rebounders. Arizona's a good school and a good program. Me in my first year being a head coach, I understand coming from a good program is very important. So he would definitely have my attention there.
supergann88 from cnb.net at 1:07pm ET
What do you look for in a player?
Nate McMillan at 1:08pm ET
I would like to interview guys. I'm looking for more athletic players, players who are versatile. That way you can put them in different positions and it's difficult to match up against them. I like to give teams different looks at times. I'm looking for a versatile player who's very athletic and capable of moving around to different positions.
Todd W from [126.96.36.199], at 1:08pm ET
Nate, It is obvious we will see big changes with the Sonics this year, who would you like to have in a Sonics uniform and what style would you like to play next year?
Nate McMillan at 1:10pm ET
I think I've always liked a running game. I think it's exciting for the fans to watch and I think players enjoy playing in that type of system. I like to be a team who will extend their defense and will do trapping at times but doesn't depend on trapping. I like to get an up-tempo run and push the ball but I also want players who will understand how to execute and show patience in running the offense. But they have to think defense first.
Jeremy West from newtek.com at 1:10pm ET
Who do you like in the draft? I assume Battier fits well with your philosophy but the Supes are good at three spot.
Nate McMillan at 1:11pm ET
I think a lot of people right now are talking about Shane Battier. The guy has done so much over his four years at Duke. I think people right now are looking for guys with character. He's intelligent and does things the right way. He's so mature. We're really not in need of a small forward, but he's definitely a guy we'd have to consider. Just by what he brings to the game.
nick from tnt1.davison.mi.da.uu.net at 1:11pm ET
Do you think they should stop letting kids come out of high school into the NBA? Would you support a ban on letting high school kids go straight to the NBA and why?
Nate McMillan at 1:12pm ET
I don't think you can do that. I think it would be unfair to limit a kid from turning pro at a young age. I think they do it in other sports. Right now we're just in a time where a lot of kids are turning pro because they can. I think if a kid feels he's ready, he should have an opportunity. I think the college game is probably suffering from that and the NBA game is suffering because it is taking them time to develop. But I think it would be unfair to limit the kids, until we see a junior or a sophomore in high school come out and then we'll have to set some new rules.
eric harris from [188.8.131.52] at 1:13pm ET
Would you draft a shooting guard to complement Gary Payton?
Nate McMillan at 1:14pm ET
I think we are really okay at our guard spots. Desmond Mason is going to have a really nice career. He works really hard. I think Brent Barry brings the shooting at that position for us. Rashard Lewis can move over. If anything, I'd draft a smaller guard to allow Gary to move over from the one to the two. Gary's basically a shooting guard with all the shots he puts up so I'd look at a smaller one guard to bring in to allow Gary to interchange.
Joe from [184.108.40.206] at 1:14pm ET
Are there any good luck charms the Sonics will be bringing to the Lottery?
Nate McMillan at 1:15pm ET
I will be attending the lottery. I'm going up there to see what it's all about because I'm hoping this will be my last time participating. I will be talking to Howard, our new owner, and he has a lucky charm for me. I don't know what it will be, but he plans to give it to me before I take off.
Bryan from bankofamerica.com at 1:15pm ET
Would the Sonics draft Casey Calvary if he's still available in the second round?
Nate McMillan at 1:16pm ET
That's tough to say. Again, we really don't know how we will draft. In the second round you take the best available player. We may use those as trade bait to try to move some people who are already on our team. We have two second round picks that we will use in either situation.
Denver from edmonds.wednet.edu at 1:16pm ET
Nate, are you looking to draft a PF or a Center in the draft?
Nate McMillan at 1:18pm ET
A rebounder. He could be a power forward or a center. We need rebounding, something that has been missing from our team for a number of years. This year we had Patrick Ewing and Vin Baker, both guys had size but didn't rebound much. Four or five, it doesn't matter. I think we need guys at both positions. If they're capable of rebounding, then the position doesn't matter.
Denver from edmonds.wednet.edu at 1:18pm ET
Nate, do you have any free agents in mind for the offseason?
Nate McMillan at 1:19pm ET
Yeah, but I won't talk about them! I think there are some very good free agents out there. We have a few guys we are eyeing and we want to make a run at those guys. I think a solid free agent could come in and help us right away. I won't say which ones but I'm really excited about the free agents that are out there.
marlon from ctc.edu at 1:19pm ET
I have to say that you being the well-around defensive player you were, you sure turned the Sonics around in making them a better defensive team. Are there other ways you'd like to see the team improve in??
Nate McMillan at 1:20pm ET
Yeah, offensively I want us to be a much better executing team. I think defense is the key to winning, but executing on the offensive end and showing patience is very important. Even though I said I'd like to be a running team, in the playoffs showing patience is so crucial. I want us to play defense and run on both ends of the floor but executing on offense is just as important.
morgan from [220.127.116.11] at 1:21pm ET
What were your first thoughts when you got drafted for the NBA? Were you really excited or did you kind of know you were going to get drafted?
Nate McMillan at 1:22pm ET
I could not believe it. It wasn't a dream come true because I never thought about forseeing myself about playing in the NBA. Draft day was like a fairy tale to me. I was totally satisfied to be selected to try out for the NBA and if everything had ended after the day of the draft it would have been fine for me because to me it would be an honor just to be selected among the finest players in the world. To get drafted was more than I ever thought would happen as far as my basketball career. I thought I'd play four years in college and then move on. But to get the opportunity to play in the NBA was like a fairy tale.
Nate McMillan at 1:24pm ET
I'd just like to thank you guys for having me. I still feel like I'm living a dream to be in the position I'm in. To go from college basketball to playing in the NBA for 12 years then spend 2 years as an assistant and then be a head coach. I was unprepared for being a head coach as soon as I was but I am really excited to be here and I'm excited to bring back the winning tradition that we had with the Sonics in the 90s.