The NBA season is still proceeding as planned, but one team is making a significant change ahead of the All-Star break. The Atlanta Hawks have fired head coach Lloyd Pierce. His tenure with the team comes to an end after just over two years and a 63-120 (.344) record.
"We would like to thank Lloyd for his work and commitment to not only the Hawks organization but the city of Atlanta," general manager Travis Schlenk said in a statement Monday. "He and his wife, Melissa, are tremendous people who have made a positive impact throughout the city. We have high expectations for our team on the court, and we believe by making this change now that we can have a strong second half of the season."
The 44-year-old Pierce was in his third season with the Hawks and had hopes of leading the team to the postseason for the first time in his tenure. However, the team was 14-20 heading toward the All-Star break, including losses to the Thunder and Spurs. The Hawks have two young stars in Trae Young and John Collins, as well as new additions in Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Rajon Rondo. However, the team continued to struggle amid the rebuilding process.
"Really disappointed," Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers said, per ESPN. "I just talked to him, I want to say five days ago. He just had a brand new baby. This is a tough business, boy. It's tough. I've always thought it was really difficult in a rebuild. ... Most of the rebuilds, unfortunately, go the way of Lloyd Pierce. You're in the middle of the rebuild and then you blame the coach for the losses that you had no chance to win. Unfortunately, that's just the way it's worked in the league.''
With the firing of Pierce, there are questions about how the team will move forward after the break. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Hawks are "hopeful" that assistant Nate McMillan will choose to become the interim head coach. However, McMillan has been "fiercely loyal" in his support of Pierce. According to Yahoo! Sports, McMillan has 16 years of NBA head coaching experience. He spent time with the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers, and Indiana Pacers.
McMillan most recently coached for the Pacers, leading the team to the postseason four consecutive times. However, the team failed to get out of the first round. The Pacers fired McMillan after a loss to the Heat in the NBA bubble.