With the NBA season possibly over, the offseason has been thrust upon the basketball world. But what does this mean for Lloyd Pierce and the Atlanta Hawks?
Following the departure of Mike Budenholzer, the Atlanta Hawks tabbed Lloyd Pierce to be their next head coach. Pierce was selected by Travis Schlenk to lead the Hawks through their rebuilding phase after serving as a lead assistant for Brett Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Pierce’s experience with developing the 76ers young core into a contender in the Eastern Conference appealed to Schlenk and the Hawks management, who were hoping Pierce would find similar success in Atlanta.
Coming into Atlanta, both Pierce and the Hawks knew it would be a long, multi-year climb out of the basement of the Eastern Conference. And that has proven to be the case in Pierce’s first two seasons as the Hawks head coach.
In his first season, Pierce finished 29-53. In his second season, before the NBA hiatus, Pierce was 20-47. Thus, in his two seasons with the Hawks, Pierce’s record as a head coach is 49-100.
Despite his struggles in the first two seasons, Pierce wasn’t named the head coach to turn the Hawks into a contender overnight. Pierce was selected for his player development skills. With the young core of Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, and De’Andre Hunter, Pierce was seen as the coach to lead that young core to become winners, eventually.
So far, the winning hasn’t come, but the development is evident. Trae Young was named an All-Star starter in his second season. John Collins, when he’s on the court, averages better than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. Kevin Huerter has turned into a solid starting shooting guard in the NBA and Cam Reddish showed big strides after a shaky start to his pro career.
Despite all the progression from the Hawks young core, mainly Trae Young, problems have arisen for Lloyd Pierce during his time as the Hawks head coach. It’s been well-known that Lloyd Pierce and Trae Young haven’t always seen eye-to-eye during their time together.
The most notable qualm between Pierce and Young came this season when it was announced Trae Young was left off the 44-man Olympic roster, a team that Lloyd Pierce is an assistant coach for. Pierce made comments about Trae’s lack of experience as a decision for the young superstar being left off the roster. Trae Young later sent some cryptic tweets that may or may not have been directed at his head coach.
Additionally, there have been questions about Lloyd Pierce’s rotations from other players, not just Trae Young. There have been questions of the team’s motivation to actually win games during this rebuilding process. That kind of noise has followed Pierce throughout his second season to the point where the beat writers for the Atlanta Hawks have had to answer questions about the leaks surrounding the team.
Now, with the season on hiatus, and possibly not coming back at all, the question about Lloyd Pierce’s job safety is a constant going into the offseason. It seems unfair to move on from a coach who was hired to oversee the rebuild so soon, but the questions have lingered.
After a disappointing season, particularly the first half of the season, there could be an argument to move on from Pierce to a more experienced coach. As of now, the Hawks and their management are in a holding period, like the rest of the NBA as we all wait to see when the NBA will return to action.
For now, Pierce is safe.