On the morning of Monday May 7, the writing was on the wall for the departure of coach Larry Drew and his staff from their employment with the Atlanta Hawks.
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Drew and company have “begun exploring other job opportunities in anticipation of the possibility they won’t be retained”. This news wouldn’t be utterly shocking in Drew’s case, as the Hawks seemed to have plateaued a bit under his leadership, and his infamous relationship with Josh Smith never seems to be on solid ground.
Frankly, the criticism of Larry Drew (on the whole) has been pretty unfounded. Drew has guided the Hawks to a .557 winning percentage during the regular season (128-102), and did so this season without the services of Joe Johnson (traded pre-season), Lou Williams (torn ACL), and Zaza Pachulia (achilles) for much of the year. In fact, I even gave Drew a mock “Coach of the Year” vote for getting this version of the Hawks to the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference despite having exactly six proven rotational players.
With the Hawks in full rebuilding mode, however, Drew’s tenure has come into scrutiny as a result of the early exit from the playoffs coupled with a huge summer for free agency on the horizon. There is a working theory that coaches can do a lot to draw top-level talent, and if the Hawks are actually (there’s debate on this) in the market for a giant star such as Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, Danny Ferry could conceivably allow some input from those players on a potential hire.
Danny Ferry will reportedly make his final decision by the end of the week, and there is much debate to be had on whether Drew “deserves” to keep his job (or be extended) past July 1st. With that said, there are clear signs of an exit for Drew, and if he does indeed depart, it will be time to look forward toward a “new era” in Atlanta.