Hawks fire Lloyd Pierce, name Nate McMillan as interim head coach

The Atlanta Hawks fired head coach Lloyd Pierce, the franchise announced with a statement from general manager Travis Schlenk Monday afternoon.

"We would like to thank Lloyd for his work and commitment to not only the Hawks organization but the city of Atlanta," Schlenk said, per the statement. ... "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."

Assistant coach Nate McMillan will replace Pierce as interim head coach.

Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce stands on the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Friday, March 6, 2020, in Washington. The Wizards won 118-112. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
The Hawks so far failed to make the leap into playoff contention during Lloyd Pierce's third season as head coach. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Hawks falling short of expectations amid injuries

Pierce, 44, was in his third season with the Hawks. Built around young stars Trae Young and John Collins, the Hawks had hoped to make the leap into playoff contention following two seasons of failing to make the postseason. With the All-Star break approaching, the Hawks are 14-20, good for 11th place in the Eastern Conference.

In two-plus seasons in Atlanta, Pierce tallied a 63-120 (.344) record while helming a rebuilding team. The Hawks made several roster moves last offseason in hopes of bolstering their chances in the East, including signing free agents Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Rajon Rondo. Atlanta also traded for Clint Capela last season.

Bogdanovic suffered a knee injury that sidelined him after nine games while De'Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Gallinari and Rondo have also missed significant time due to injuries.

Pierce is active in the Atlanta community and helped lead the effort to open State Farm Arena as a voting site during the 2020 elections.

Can Nate McMillan turn season around?

McMillan, who was reportedly "fiercely loyal" to Pierce, will now helm his fourth NBA team. Lloyd supported McMillan's decision to accept the job, according to Wojnarowski. McMillan has 16 years of NBA head coaching experience with the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers, compiling a 661-588 (.529) record.

The Pacers fired McMillan last offseason after he coached the team to four straight playoff appearances but failed to get out of the first round. The Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat handed the Pacers their second straight first-round sweep in last season's Disney World bubble.

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