Atlanta Hawks stars get brutally honest about former HC Nate McMillan

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /
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Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

John Collins Suggests Nate McMillan’s Style Better-Suited for ‘Older’ Players

Seemingly on borrowed time in Atlanta after years of trade speculation – and even conversations – John Collins was brutally honest in his assessment of the situation.

“Definitely not happy to see Nate go,” Collins told the gaggle of reporters. “He’s a great coach. The relationship we had and just the things that I was able to learn from him and, obviously, his resume as a coach and a player speaks volumes.”

Collins is the longest-tenured player, drafted 19th overall in 2019. He was reportedly on his way out of town but Schlenk nixed the deal, though Fields also made it clear that he would not be giving Collins away just to move his hefty contract that still has $78.5 million left on his contract after this season.

He is also one of the more outspoken members of the team when it comes to acknowledging their shortcomings.

He did so again on Wednesday.

“Coach Mac is more so, I’d say, suited for guys who are in a different part of their careers,” Collins said. “And just us being as young as we are, I feel like we need to focus on just a couple different things…What Nate was asking from us as a group and where we are mentally, professionally just in terms of years, experience – just kind of creates a divide in expectations versus where we are and where we have developed to as young players.”

McMillan was notoriously slow to adjust often opting to let the players figure it out on the floor. It is a strategy that has worked and failed but is not really a strategy, especially when the team has shown signs they are not able to do that – or whatever Collins was referring to – just yet.

Collins said the Hawks “need a different kind of guidance” and hopes that whoever the front office hires will be more development-focused.

He reiterated that they respect McMillan but noted a different roster has different needs.

There was a point when Collins addressed how the team needs to grow. He noted that their chemistry was lacking in addition to their individual skills but their biggest shortcoming might be in their ability to hold each other – and be held – accountable.

“I feel like that’s where you start, is putting people accountable to, not only their job but their expectations as men on this team. You know what I mean? It’s the NBA. We’re not in college anymore. We’re not in high school. We’re expected to come in here and be men, try to win basketball games.”

Collins emphasized that it was a “delicate” situation and that the Hawks could “do a better job” in that department.

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But he was clear that it was something they can fix while, rightfully, declining to point fingers.