A tumultuous night that saw the Atlanta Hawks fall 130-121 at home against the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers began in much the same fashion. It has been a rough few weeks for the Hawks who have matched their inconsistency on the court with plenty of drama off it not the least of which was a switch at the top of the front office.
Trade rumors, specifically surrounding John Collins, have been par for the course for two years.
But a new report sheds light on the possibility that the Hawks could be searching for their third head coach in the last four years. All of this is as the on-court product continues to vacillate between exciting highs and depressing lows.
Nate McMillan sounds off on reports that he is considering resignation
Before LeBron James celebrated his 38th birthday with a 47-point, 10-rebound, nine-assist outing against his team, Hawks head coach Nate McMillan took to the podium. The topic on everyone’s mind was a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic (subscription required) that detailed an imminent coaching change.
Per the report, the change is looming at the end of the season barring an in-season resignation from McMillan.
McMillan is in his second full season at the helm after taking over on an interim basis in 2021.
“At the end of the year, I’ll do as I’ve always done,” McMillan told reporters. At the end of the season, I talk with my family and see if I still have that flame, that fire to continue next season. But that’s at the end of the season…So we’re going to move past that.”
Still, Charania painted a picture of it being a matter of when and not necessarily if McMillan’s tenure in Atlanta will come to an end.
“I read that article briefly,” McMillan said of Charania’s report. “I’ve never spoke to that reporter before. I think the last two weeks, he’s written a couple of articles with some sources in our organization that are making some comments about me and some things that I’m saying and doing.”
Charania reported on the disagreement between McMillan and star point guard Trae Young that resulted in the latter skipping a game earlier in the season. The report stated that McMillan gave Young an ultimatum of practicing or not playing.
McMillan denied that vehemently saying that he would never tell a player not to show up, a response in direct contradiction with Young’s assertion that the decision was mutual.
Charania also spoke with John Collins last season amid frustration over his role.
Young said he and Fields talk regularly and the latter’s ascension could be why the talk around McMillan has gone from his job being safe to this. But the head coach isn’t veering from the goal in the face of so much controversy.
“All of us think about retiring,” McMillan said. “But that’s at the end of the season…We have a race to prepare for. Try to get out guys healthy and make another run at the playoffs. But the things that were reported – Look, I’m here to coach this team, And I’ve talked to Tony [Ressler] many times and our goal is to make the playoffs.”
McMillan acknowledged the challenge of relating to players in the NBA but was clear that this was nothing new for a coach whose career has spanned two decades.
The Hawks have even more riding on this season than initially thought and the expectations were already high. What happens next with Collins, McMillan, and plenty of other loose ends remains to be seen.