I briefly caught up with former Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan at USA Basketball practice on Monday morning. To say McMillan looks different than we last saw him in Portland would be a major, major understatement. The tense, terse McMillan who spent his final weeks with the Blazers agonizing over his backcourt has been replaced by a loose, wide-smiling USA assistant coach ready to defend the 2008 Olympics Gold Medal.
Here's a transcript of our quick question-and-answer.
Are you surprised that Brandon Roy is making a comeback?
Yeah, but it was quick the way things happened with Brandon last season. A week before camp. He and I and Larry [Miller] and Chad [Buchanan] met and we talked and we thought Brandon was going to show up for training camp. A week later, he decides that he's going to retire. That was a surprise to me.
For Brandon, I haven't spoke to Brandon, maybe that's not the way he wanted to do it. After sitting out the season. Maybe he wants to just see what he can do out on the floor.
But, it was a surprise at that time after talking to him that he was going to retire but now hearing that he's coming back, it's somewhat of a surprise. But you kind of felt that he wanted to play and there's just a lot of unknowns with how much he can play and what kind of role.
Where was Brandon Roy at physically during the 2010-11 season when he last played and then where was he at coming into the 2011-12 season? What can everyone expect to see from him this fall?
What we were trying to do, as far as me, listen to the doctors, listen to the trainers and listen to Brandon. When he returned two seasons ago, we basically tried to monitor his minutes. We felt that was the best approach, talking to Brandon after the minor surgery that he had. For the next couple of months we needed to monitor his minutes, try to adapt and change his role so we brought him off the bench, to see if that would help him get through the season and if he could be productive in that role.
This past season, because he felt he wanted more minutes and he didn't really want to accept that role, we took all those restrictions off and basically he was going to go back in the starting lineup. There wasn't going to be any minutes requirement. He would play as much as he could and we would go from there. We weren't able to see that because he decided to retire.
What's your personal approach going into next season?
I mean, you want to look for a good match. Someone where there's an opportunity and you're part of their plans and their game plan is part of what you want to be a part of. If that happens, that would be great. You just have to wait and see. There's not a lot of teams [with open head coaching spots] so you really have no control over that. For me, I'm focusing with this Olympics team. It's good to be back out on the court, get into some shorts, work with the players and we'll see what happens.
Reaction to Blazers president Larry Miller's resignation?
I don't know. I think Larry did a great job. I enjoyed working with him. It's just an unfortunate situation. I know we've said that a lot, up in Portland. Things happen. Sometimes change is for the best. We had an opportunity where some good things were happening up there and we had some luck that wasn't too good.
You've hinted at this before, but do you think the injuries to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden will wind up being the legacy of the time period you and Miller shared in Portland?
No question. It's part of it. There's nothing you can do about it. It was a time that was pretty bad as far as injuries, the injury bug hit us when we felt like we had a good enough team to compete and compete at a high level.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter