Hawks coach Nate McMillan out after landing in COVID health and safety protocols

Yet another NBA coach has been sidelined due to COVID-19.

Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Saturday, the team announced. Hawks top assistant Chris Jent entered protocols earlier this week, too, which leaves assistant Joe Prunty to serve as acting head coach for the time being.

The Hawks did return six players from health and safety protocols on Saturday, however. That group will join the team in Portland for Monday’s game against the Trail Blazers.

McMillan joins seven other coaches who are currently in coronavirus protocols. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, 76ers coach Doc Rivers, Nuggets coach Michael Malone, Suns coach Monty Williams, Bulls coach Billy Donovan, Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups and Thunder coach Mark Daigneault are all also out.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel was cleared to return on Friday. Both Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry and Pacers coach Rick Carlisle have been on that list this season already, too.

McMillan — who is in his second season leading the Hawks — actually called in the NBA to pause its season earlier this week. Commissioner Adam Silver, however, has previously said that the league has no plans to do so.

“I think [we should pause], but it’s not up to me,” he said Tuesday before they left on a six game road trip with 12 players in protocols. “The league is trying to keep this season going. Of course, it’s really frustrating for us and a lot of other teams. But there isn’t anything we can do other than follow the direction of the league.

“We are trying to bring in players to replace guys who go into protocol. It’s a real challenge, and the timing really couldn’t be any worse for us to start a six-game road trip with a number of our guys in protocol.”

The Hawks, who beat the Cavaliers on Friday, will wrap up their road trip next week with games against the Kings, Lakers and Clippers. It’s unclear how long McMillan will be gone.

Head coach Nate McMillan of the Atlanta Hawks
Nate McMillan is one of eight head coaches currently sidelined due to the coronavirus. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Nuggets acting coach enters protocols too

Nuggets acting head coach David Adelman entered protocols himself on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Adelman took over after Malone entered protocols earlier this week. The Nuggets will now be led by assistant Popeye Jones.

It’s unclear how long either coach will be gone. The Nuggets will take on the Rockets in Houston on Saturday night before traveling to play the Mavericks on Monday to wrap up their road trip.

NBA calls up 4th G League official

Players and coaches aren't the only ones dealing with the coronavirus surge.

The NBA called up a fourth referee up from the G League to work a game on Saturday, according to The Associated Press.

Sha'Rae Mitchell was brought in to work the Pistons-Spurs game in Detroit, making her the fourth G League referee to do so in two days. Mitchell is now the 15th woman to work a regular-season NBA game.

About one-third of officials were in protocols earlier this week. All referees are required to be fully vaccinated and have to get their booster shot by next week.

The NBA is about 97% vaccinated, and the league adjusted protocol rules earlier this week to allow players to return from the reserve/COVID-19 list after just five days instead of the original 10.

As of Saturday, the United States is averaging more than 378,000 new cases each day, according to The New York Times, which is a 201% increase over the past two weeks. More than 585,000 new cases were reported on Thursday alone, an all-time record. About 71% of Americans aged 12 and up are fully vaccinated.