Originally created 05/24/05

'Mr. Sonic' hasn't had time to consider a return



SEATTLE - Seattle SuperSonics coach Nate McMillan couldn't say Monday if he'll return next season, simply because he hasn't had time to consider the question.

"You're going 100 miles per hour and then, boom," McMillan said.

Meeting with reporters at team headquarters, McMillan listed reasons he thinks the Sonics - eliminated by San Antonio last week - will continue to be competitive.

He spoke of how much he has invested in the organization and the players, sounding as though the job isn't finished.

"We can win," said McMillan, whose contract expires June 30. "I see potential. I see growth."

Meanwhile, McMillan has become an attractive candidate to fill coaching jobs around the league, and he also suggested he might explore his options.

"I've never been too comfortable, where I felt like I couldn't move or wouldn't move," said McMillan, who spent 12 years as Seattle's point guard, two years as an assistant and four as head coach.

"Just because you have a four-year deal doesn't mean you'll be there all four years," he said. "There's always the chance you could be traded or fired."

McMillan, who earned about $4 million last season, is an institution with the club and city. He's nicknamed "Mr. Sonic" and his No. 10 jersey hangs from the rafters at KeyArena.

His stock is up after he led Seattle to 52 wins, the Northwest Division title and the Western Conference semifinals.

Sonics president Wally Walker said it's paramount to keep McMillan, general manager Rick Sund and All-Star shooting guard Ray Allen - whose contracts also are expiring.

"I don't want to rank them. Those three guys are all priorities," Walker said.

In another development, Walker said Allen indicated last week he's willing to reopen discussions on a contract extension before the NBA's collective bargaining agreement expires June 30.

"We want to get him signed," Walker said. "It's no more complicated than that."

The sides negotiated much of last season but couldn't agree to terms. The team reportedly made a $75 million, five-year offer. Allen earned $14 million last season.

Besides Allen, the Sonics have eight more free agent players. Sund said it will be impossible to re-sign any except Allen without knowing if stalled NBA labor talks will lead to a lockout this summer.

"In a perfect world, we'd have no lockout," Walker said.

The 40-year-old McMillan, meanwhile, plans to take some time later this week to relax with his family, then meet with his agent to discuss his coaching options.

The team, of course, needs to know where McMillan stands so the front office can begin making plans. Walker said McMillan won't face "a hard-and-fast deadline."

Walker declined to say if other teams have contacted the Sonics about interviewing McMillan, but the coach's name has been linked to openings in New York, Orlando and Minnesota.

His bargaining position also got another boost when Cavaliers star LeBron James identified McMillan as the coach he hopes to see in Cleveland next season.

"It's nice to be wanted," McMillan said. "For me, this season was just about trying to bring the Sonics back on the right path and to bring a winning organization to the city."

He said events over the past two seasons forged his belief in the style he favors - a swing-the-ball perimeter game, defined by strong 3-point shooting and fueled by rebounding and tough defense.

McMillan doubts if that style alone is enough to make him more marketable than a coaching candidate like Phil Jackson, another of the names thrown around lately for NBA vacancies.

"I don't have the rings. Just the style," McMillan said, laughing.