Hawks hearth Lloyd Pierce; Nate McMillan to function interim head coach

Hawks fire Lloyd Pierce; Nate McMillan to serve as interim head coach

The Hawks headed into the 2020-21 season with playoff expectations after spending large amounts of cash on the free hand. It is now clear that Lloyd Pierce was not leading them in the right direction.

Atlanta announced Monday that it fired Pierce during a difficult period that saw the team lose 12 of their last 17 games. Pierce, who was named the Hawks’ head coach in 2018, leaves Atlanta with an overall record of 63-120.

MORE: Twitter is waiting for Kings to fire Luke Walton

“We would like to thank Lloyd for his work and dedication not only to the Hawks organization but also to the city of Atlanta,” said Travis Schlenk, president of Hawks’ basketball division. “He and his wife Melissa are great people who have had a positive impact across the city. We have high expectations for our team on the pitch and believe that with this change we can now have a strong second half of the season.”

While the Hawks tumbled out of the gates to a 14-20 mark (11th in the Eastern Conference) this season, with Pierce in the lead, it should be noted that he has dealt with a brutal string of injuries, particularly acquisitions outside of it the season. Kris Dunn, Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo are missing a significant time. Atlanta has lost the second most popular game to injury in the league behind only Orlando, according to Spotrac’s Injury Tracker, which gives Pierce little chance of building any kind of chemistry with this group.

However, the Hawks have also consistently put themselves in a position to win games only to fall apart in the closing minutes. Perhaps it’s unfair to attribute all of these mistakes to Pierce, but the coach is usually the first person to be pushed out the door when an NBA team underperforms.

11 of the Hawks’ 20 losses this season occurred when the team was ahead of the game in the fourth quarter.

– Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) March 1, 2021

Where does Atlanta go from here? The Hawks are “hopeful” According to Adrian Wojnarowski from ESPN, Nate McMillan will make the transition from assistant coach to interim head coach. McMillan has been “extremely loyal” to helping Pierce, according to Wojnarowski, so it is not out of the question that he will turn down the job. McMillan previously headed the Pacers for four seasons before joining Pierce.

As of Monday, Atlanta is only two games away from a seat in the play-in tournament, and there is still plenty of time to turn this season. Whether McMillan or any other candidate, the pressure is on the next head coach to lead the Hawks back into the postseason for the first time since 2017.

TO UPDATE: McMillan will take over the post of interim head coach, according to Wojnarowski.

ESPN Sources: Nate McMillan has accepted the temporary job as head coach with the Hawks. McMillan has a record 667-591 (.530) in 16 seasons as head coach at Seattle, Portland and Indiana.

– Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 1, 2021

Lloyd Pierce supported him in taking on the interim job that is important for McMillan, sources told ESPN.

– Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 1, 2021