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Hectic summer keeping Pacers’ McMillan busy

INDIANAPOLIS – New Indiana Pacers coach Nate Mcmillan has been a busy man the past few weeks.

He’s finally decided to keep the two assistants he worked with the last three seasons, Dan Burke and Popeye Jones, as he continues to search for a third.

It’s an offseason pace that’s kept McMillan almost as busy as he was during the actual season.

“That’s what we want to do here. We’re just going to try and improve what we’ve already done.”

McMillan, George and a handful of other Pacers players took a brief break from workouts to play in the annual Caroline Symmes Celebrity Softball Challenge, a fundraiser for the Indiana Children’s Wish Fund.

The event is co-hosted by George and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis and has created some rare opportunities for the city’s two most prominent teams – such as seeing George and Andrew Luck in uniform on the same playing field just before the first pitch.

Then he told a small group of reporters that Burke, who has spent the last 19 seasons on Indiana’s staff, and Jones, who came to town three years ago with McMillan, would return to the bench next season.

With Burke considered the team’s defensive guru, the conventional wisdom has been McMillan would add someone who has been more productive working with the offense.

“We’re currently working on a third assistant. I’ve talked to a couple of people, we should have something soon,” McMillan said.

“Offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, it doesn’t matter. He will be a coach and in basketball, we coach.”

Whomever McMillan hires, the message has been clear since Bird decided not to keep Frank Vogel when his contract expired at the end of the season.

Bird said he wanted the team to score more points, regain its edge on defense and have a new voice in the locker room.

“We know what personnel we’re looking for,” McMillan said.

“The big thing is can we find these guys in the draft and free agency?”

Indiana is expected to enter free agency more than $50 million below the luxury tax threshold, which Bird has often cited as a breaking point that the Pacers will not surpass.

McMillan said he’s explained the rigors of the Olympics and now George must decide whether to play.

“He wants us to have fun and play our game.”

And, of course, win more often next season.

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Hectic summer keeping Pacers’ McMillan busy


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