“Players Don’t F— With McMillan” | Former NBA Player Matt Barnes Isn’t A Fan Of Lakers Hiring Nate McMillan As An Assistant. He’s Long Been Sour On Him

Ever since the Los Angeles Lakers surprised everyone and hired the very inexperienced JJ Redick as their new head coach, they’ve also been trying to find experienced assistants to fill his coaching staff. Per reports they attempted to add former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts on three different occasions, but each time he remained uninterested. That led the Redick and GM Rob Pelinka to hire a couple of other former NBA head coaches.

On Wednesday it was announced that former Oklahoma City Thunder and Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks and former Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan both accepted assistant coach positions. Brooks has long been lauded as a player’s coach, but McMillan’s coaching style is said to be hard to deal with by many former players. While former NBA player Matt Barnes never played for McMillan personally, he’s seemingly had an ax to grind with McMillan for the longest. 

Barnes Says Players Don’t Like McMillan

In the wake of McMillan’s hiring by the Lakers, Barnes immediately chimed in on a fan’s post about the hiring on X with this statement.

“Players don’t f— with McMillan,” Barnes posted. “They didn’t when I played and I guarantee they don’t now.”

That’s just the latest comment from Barnes about McMillan and his old-school coaching style. Back in 2022 when McMillan and Hawks star Trae Young were at odds, Barnes also spoke out on McMillan’s handling of Young’s shoulder injury he was battling back from. McMillan told Young then if he couldn’t practice that he’d come off the bench, and if he didn’t like that don’t show up for the game, to which Young obliged. That drew the ire of Barnes, who let it be known on his podcast.

“It doesn’t seem like he has the locker room anymore, and he’s more of an old-school type coach, and that’s not a bad thing, but that’s not what the NBA is anymore,” Branes said. “I think there are maybe less than five coaches that are like these old-school type coaches. Nate McMillan is one of them. With all due respect, I think the game has passed his ways by. If you can’t adapt to this new younger culture, your days are numbered. I don’t think Nate McMillan will finish the season.”

Barnes was correct, as the Hawks fired McMillan during the All-Star break. They said it was for their 29-30 record, but the rift with Young that Barnes described didn’t help his cause at all. That style of coaching is no longer the way of the NBA, and although Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has somehow been pretty successful with it, most wouldn’t be. 

What Does McMillan Bring To The Staff

The one thing McMillan brings with him to the Lakers is experience. He’s been in the coaching profession since 1998, including  head coaching stints with the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers, and the aforementioned Pacers and Hawks. In totality he’s been a head coach for 19 NBA seasons, sporting a career record of 760-668. He’s also 28-48 in the playoffs, with his best finish being getting the Hawks to within two games of the NBA Finals in 2021-22. 

Being adamant about adding former head coaches to Redick’s staff proves he had no business getting the job. While McMillan and Brooks have solid records, neither experienced much success over the last few years of their careers as head coaches, outside of McMillan leading the Hawks on that surprising run in 2022. 

While McMillan, who’s 59, will likely never be a head coach again, he can definitely provide the experience and leadership that the Lakers hopes will help keep them out of the play-in and advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. 

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