The Indiana Pacers have cast a wide net in their search to replace former head coach Nate McMillan, but one candidate appears to have taken the lead. According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, former New Orleans Pelicans assistant Chris Finch is considered the frontrunner for the Pacers job. Two Miami Heat assistants, Chris Quinn and Dan Craig will also interview now that their seasons are over. Chauncey Billups and Dave Joerger both interviewed earlier in the process, and the Pacers were initially connected to Mike D’Antoni.
Finch’s coaching resume has drawn comparisons to Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse. Nurse even worked as an assistant on Finch’s British national team staff. Both coached in Europe, with Finch leading teams in England, Germany and Belgium, and both led G League champions, with Finch winning the 2010 title as coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
His NBA resume is just as diverse. His first assistant job in the United States came with the Houston Rockets, where he helped form some of the offenses that launched James Harden into stardom. From there, he left for Denver, where he helped develop Nikola Jokic in his rookie year. He has been with the New Orleans Pelicans ever since and is widely credited for both designing elements of their two-big offense around DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis and concocting unorthodox ways of using last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Zion Williamson.
The Pacers fired McMillan, at least in part, because of his archaic offensive principles. The Pacers took the fewest 3-pointers in the NBA last season and finished 22nd in pace. Finch’s Vipers took nearly as many 3-pointers in 2011 (27.3 per game) as McMillan’s Pacers did in 2020 (28). Those Vipers finished sixth in the G League in pace, and an apprenticeship under pace-master Alvin Gentry should only make his offenses faster.
Finch hasn’t sealed the job yet, but given Indiana’s presumed priorities, he appears to be one of the best fits on the board. If nothing else, he is a sharp turn away from the principles that cost McMillan his job.