Detroit — The relationship between Pistons coach Dwane Casey and Hawks coach Nate McMillan goes back to when both were on the same staff of the Seattle Supersonics.
Casey was an assistant for the Supersonics on George Karl’s coaching staff from 1994-98, when Paul Westphal took over as head coach. McMillan, who played point guard for the Sonics for four seasons from ’94-’98, joined Seattle’s coaching staff from 1998 until Westphal’s firing in 2000.
“(Seattle general manager) Wally Walker brought us into the office and said, ‘Which one of you guys wants to be the head coach?'” Casey recalled Wednesday before Detroit’s 118-113 loss to Atlanta.
“Nate and I looked at each other and we both pointed at each other. It was the right decision, because Nate had a great relationship with Gary Payton at the time.”
McMillan played his entire 12-year NBA career with the Sonics and had his No. 10 jersey retired by the franchise. As head coach, he compiled a 212-183 record in his five seasons at the helm for the Sonics.
Both Casey and McMillan were on the same coaching staff from 1998 until 2005, when McMillan became coach of the Portland Trail Blazers.
“He’s a great friend,” McMillan said. “He’s a guy that’s prepared. He was prepared then. I really learned a lot from him the year that I spent being an assistant with him. I got a great deal of respect for his coaching. It took him a while to get that opportunity, but once he got that opportunity, he’s shown that he is a really good coach in this league.”
Casey, 65, has served as a head coach, associate head coach and assistant coach in the NBA for 24 seasons. He’s been at the helm of the Minnesota Timberwolves (2005-07) and most notably, the Toronto Raptors, where he coached for seven seasons. He became the franchise’s all-time winningest coach, with a 320-238 record and he had five consecutive postseason appearances from 2014-18, when he was named the National Basketball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year.
Casey, who is now in his fifth season with the Pistons, spoke about his popular collection of scouting notebooks that he keeps in at home. It’s a tip that he passed down to McMillan, who utilizes the same strategy.
“That’s a tough subject with my wife because she says, ‘Why are you keeping all these notebooks?'” Casey joked during his pregame availability on Friday.
“All over the years, I’ve always kept notes. At nighttime after a game, I take notes on the game — what happened, thoughts — and I keep them in a bin in our storage room. Most of them are in Seattle, but that’s the first thing I told Nate as a coach, showing him how to prepare scouting reports as an assistant coach.
“He was a natural coach, though. George Karl would have him come in the meetings. He was out with his back (injury) and George said, ‘Instead of sitting at home, come sit in our meetings.’ And he did, as a player. You just knew he had a feel for the game and was going to be a great coach. Atlanta’s lucky to have him as a coach. A leader. He’s a leader of men. A man’s man. I can’t give him enough superlatives.”
McMillan won round one of the first of three meetings this season between the Pistons and Hawks.
Paris Game tickets on sale
Tickets for the 2023 NBA Paris Game, which features the Pistons and Chicago Bulls, will go on general sale on Nov. 10 at 1 p.m., the league announced Friday.
Tickets for the game, set for Jan. 19, 2023, can be purchased through the Accor Arena website.
The NBA Paris Game will mark the first NBA game in Europe since 2020. The first edition was played on Jan. 24, 2020 and featured the Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks.
The Pistons will be playing their first game in France, after previously playing regular-season games in London (2013) and Mexico City (2019).