Hawks fireplace Lloyd Pierce; will Nate McMillan substitute him as head coach?

The Hawks entered the 2020-21 season with playoff expectations after spending lavishly in free company. It is now clear they felt Lloyd Pierce wasn’t taking them in the fitting route.

Atlanta introduced Monday that it has fired Pierce amid a tough stretch through which the crew has misplaced 12 of its final 17 games. Pierce, who was named the top coach of the Hawks in 2018, leaves Atlanta with a 63-120 total document.

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“We wish to thank Lloyd for his work and dedication to not solely the Hawks group however the metropolis of Atlanta,” Hawks president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk stated. “He and his spouse, Melissa, are great individuals who have made a constructive influence all through town. We have now excessive expectations for our crew on the court docket and we imagine by making this transformation now that we will have a robust second half of the season.”

Whereas the Hawks stumbled out of the gates to a 14-20 mark (eleventh within the Japanese Convention) this season with Pierce on the helm, it ought to be famous that he dealt with a brutal run of accidents, significantly with offseason acquisitions Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kris Dunn, Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo lacking important time. Atlanta has misplaced the second-most games to accidents within the league behind solely Orlando, per Spotrac’s harm tracker, giving Pierce little probability to construct any type of chemistry with this group.

Nonetheless, the Hawks additionally persistently put themselves in place to win games, solely to fall aside within the closing minutes. Maybe it is unfair to pin all of these failures on Pierce, however as is usually the case within the NBA, the coach is all the time the primary particular person pushed out of the door when a crew is underperforming.

So the place does Atlanta go from right here? The Hawks are “hopeful” Nate McMillan will make the transition from assistant coach to interim head coach, in line with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. McMillan has been “fiercely loyal” in his assist of Pierce, per Wojnarowski, so it is not out of the query he’ll flip down the job. McMillan beforehand served as the top coach of the Pacers for 4 seasons earlier than becoming a member of Pierce’s workers.

As of Monday, Atlanta is just two games out of a spot of the play-in match, and there may be nonetheless loads of time left to show this season round. Whether or not it is McMillan or one other candidate, the stress shall be on the following head coach to guide the Hawks again to the postseason for the primary time since 2017.

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