Woj: Pacers 'Bear Watching' with Mike D'Antoni After Doc Rivers Joins 76ers

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIIOctober 2, 2020

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni reacts to a call during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

With Doc Rivers landing a new job with the Philadelphia 76ers almost as quickly as he became a free agent, the biggest name on the coaching market is once again Mike D'Antoni. It may not stay that way for long. 

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarnowski, the Indiana Pacers have interest in the former Houston Rockets coach and could look to sit down with him in the near future after D'Antoni missed out on the Sixers opening. 

"He was very intrigued with the Philadelphia situation," Wojnarowski said on SportsCenter. "There are still openings out there—I think one that bears watching, perhaps, is Indiana. The Pacers are still in the early stages of a search. They've been talking to candidates. They haven't narrowed the field down too far yet." 

The Pacers parted ways with head coach Nate McMillan in late August after four straight seasons ended with a first-round playoff loss. 

While D'Antoni has seen more playoff success overall, the coach hasn't advanced past the second round since taking the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals in 2018. 

Yet few stars in the NBA demand the ball as much as James Harden and Russell Westbrook. In leaving Houston, D'Antoni should be able to construct a more cohesive offense, even if he chooses to stick with his small-ball scheme. 

That's precisely why Indiana could make sense. With the core of Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo all in their prime, there's enough versatility and playmaking for D'Antoni to keep looking for new ways to gain an offensive advantage. 

The Rockets averaged 107.7 points per game last season and finished with the No. 9 offense in basketball. The Pacers were further down at No. 15 with 100.8 points per game. 

A foundation has been built in Indiana. It will take the right coach to make it a contender.

"It'll be interesting to see if Mike D'Antoni and Indiana—if there's a conversation at the very least for them to have," Wojnarowski said. 

With both Rivers and Philadelphia off the board, that conversation should become a bit more likely.  


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