Nate McMillan Dismissed By Atlanta Hawks
Nate McMillan is finally gone. After months of speculation, the Atlanta Hawks are dismissing their head coach after roughly two years on the job. Hawks assistant Joe Prunty will be taking over on an interim basis. Adrian Wojnarowski was first on the news:
It should not be looked upon as much of a surprise. Even from an outside perspective, things have been starting to sour between McMillan and the team for quite some time. At 29-30, the Hawks currently hold the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, putting them in a play-in dogfight they would surely like to avoid. Fingers quickly pointed to McMillan for a pretty talented team underperforming. Many also expected the Hawks to contend for a Top-5 spot in the East after acquiring all-star Dejounte Murray during last year’s offseason. Up until now, the young backcourt of him and Trae Young has yet to truly hit their stride.
However, having Prunty or even a new coach come in on a permanent basis could be just what this team needs. After all, the arrival of McMillan during the 2020-2021 season was in part how Atlanta was able to stun the Knicks and Sixers en route to losing to the Bucks in six games for the Conference Finals. No one can doubt that Atlanta is still a young team who could make some noise within a few years. However, there are those who argue that Atlanta has already hit their ceiling.
Writing On The Wall
There’s also another player in all of this: Trae Young. Chris Haynes dropped a bombshell in December speculating that the former Oklahoma man could be the next big star to request a trade. One of the factors in that speculation was the deteriorating relationship with Young and McMillan. With a new coach set to be hired, the team is probably hoping and praying that they’ll be able to keep ahold of their superstar for the long haul.
This in turn should probably make Young play a little better. Despite averaging 26 points and 10 assists a night, he has shot the ball at an alarming 42.8 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from three. Both of those marks are the lowest since his rookie year. With supporting pieces like Murray, Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Andre Hunter, and Clint Capela, the coaching change might help them have a strong run post-All Star break.
There is no shortage of long-term options for Atlanta. Would they take a chance on Ime Udoka? How about assistant coaches like Kenny Atkinson or Sam Cassell? Mike D’Antoni might be tempted to leave New Orleans for a head coaching job. It’ll be interesting to see what direction the Hawks decide to go in. For now, many fans will probably celebrate as the tumultuous tenure of Nate McMillan is over.
UPDATE: The Hawks apprently have former Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder at the top of their list for replacements for McMillan. Woj has more down below: