How would you grade Nate McMillan as Blazers coach
PORTLAND - The Portland Trail Blazers fired head coach Nate McMillan Thursday.
The announcement follows a series of poor recent performances by the team and a season marked by injuries to key players.
Team President Larry Miller made the official announcement Thursday afternoon. The news was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
"I want to thank Nate for his years of service to the team and Portland and its fans," team owner Paul Allen Tweeted. Allen added they "had to face reality of how the season was going."
Miller explained at an evening press conference that the timing was right to set a new direction for the team. Miller said McMillan was"taken aback" by the decison but they had a good conversation following his firing.
"Clearly the season to this point has not gone the way we had hoped it would and after talking with Nate we decided it was best to part ways," Miller said. "I want to personally acknowledge and thank Nate for his many contributions to this franchise and wish him nothing but the best for the future."
Reporters asked Miller if the firing of McMillan and the trades were preparation for selling the team. "Absoloutely not," he said emphatically. "The reasons the decisions were made had nothing to do with that." He added that owner Paul Allen is very involved in the team. "We talk to him a hundred times a day."
Photos: Nate McMillan's Blazer career
McMillan's final game Wednesday night, a 42-point loss to the New York Knicks, was the Blazers' fifth-worst loss and the biggest loss ever to the Knicks. More: Knicks' 42 pt. win over Portland
McMillan was hired in July of 2005 from the then-Seattle Sonics, taking over the team at the end of the “Jail Blazers” era. He is credited with helping clean up the franchise’s image and built them into a contender, and took the Blazers to playoffs three years in a row.
Overall, McMillan had a regular-season record of 262-269 as Blazers head coach. He had a 6-12 record in the playoffs.
The Blazers promoted assistant Kaleb Canales (pictured, right) to interim head coach, citing a league source.
Canales was a videographer in Portland from 2005-2009 before being promoted to assistant coach. He also served as the coach during summer camp.
Two trades made
The Blazers also traded Gerald Wallace for center Mehmet Okur, forward Shawne Williams and a 2012 first round pick from the New Jersey Nets, the team announced.
Portland also requested waivers on centers Greg Oden and Chris Johnson.
"This trade was very compelling to us because not only does it give us more flexibility in free agency, but we also acquire a very attractive first-round draft pick," Acting General Manager Chad Buchanan said. "I'd like to thank Gerald, Greg and Chris for all they've done for the franchise and hope for nothing but the best for them and their futures."
The draft pick is top-three protected, meaning the Trail Blazers will own the pick in 2012 as long as it is not in the top three of the draft, the team said.
Yahoo! also reported Marcus Camby was on his way to the Houston Rockets. Portland would get Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn.
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