The Atlanta Hawks have dismissed head coach Nate McMillan per ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. Sometimes the timeline that we have planned out gets sped up. Earlier this year, there was a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic (subscription required) detailing McMillan considering stepping down.
He addressed those rumors, saying that any decision on the issue would not come until after the season. At 29-30, the new Hawks front office headed by general manager Landry Fields had seen enough.
“I would like to thank Nate for his leadership and professionalism during his time with the Hawks,” Fields said in a press release on Hawks.com. “He is truly a class act, and we appreciate the graciousness and work ethic he brought with him every day. Decisions like these, especially in-season, are always extremely difficult, but we believe it’s in the best interest of our team to move forward with another voice leading the way.”
McMillan finishes his Hawks career with a 99-80 record including a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021 after McMillan took over for Lloyd Pierce.
Despite making a blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray last summer, they’ve struggled.
There was also a reported disagreement between McMillan and star point guard Trae Young resulting in the latter skipping a game while injured. Young said it was a mutual decision to miss the game while insisting that it was a private matter but McMillan said that he would “never” tell a player to miss a game — Pierce also had run-ins with Young.
“Assistant coach Joe Prunty is expected to become the interim coach,” said Wojnarowski.
“The Hawks are starting a search for a new head coach immediately, sources tell ESPN. Among the top characteristics in the search: player development, accountability, and getting Hawks offense and defense into league’s Top 10.”
Atlanta Hawks looking at some big names to replace Nate McMillan
Wojnarowski went on to list several candidates for the open position including most notably former Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder and former Brooklyn Nets boss Kenny Atkinson.
Snyder had a 58.5% winning percentage guiding the Jazz including six playoff appearances in eight seasons at the helm. He also spent a season in Atlanta as an assistant coach under Mike Budenholzer in 2014.
Atkinson spent four seasons rebuilding the Nets after their failed attempt at a super team.
Under McMillan, the Hawks have generally set out to bring young players about slowly. It has not always gone to plan thanks to injuries in the case of Onyeka Okongwu and has potentially even stunted the development of second-year forward Jalen Johnson. But rookie AJ Griffin has acclimated quite well even making the Rising Stars game over the All-Star break.