Three ideas on the Hawks’ firing of head coach Lloyd Pierce on Monday:
• This isn’t particularly shocking. There was league-wide buzz that Pierce could possibly be in hassle final yr, with the Hawks stumbling to a 20–47 end in the pandemic-shortened season. Pierce survived, however with Atlanta off to a disappointing 14–20 begin—causes for which go effectively past Pierce—it’s hardly a shock to see the Hawks let him go. Atlanta spent closely on free brokers final offseason, and whereas a number of key gamers have missed vital time with accidents (Bogdan Bogdanović, De’Andre Hunter, Rajon Rondo) there have been some warning indicators. The Hawks have been a catastrophe in the fourth quarter this season, with an NBA-worst internet score (-8.2) and defensive score (120.4) in the last 12 minutes. The protection has been particularly ugly, with Atlanta rating in the backside third of the NBA defensively and looking out lifeless on that finish in current weeks, notably in a nine-point loss to rebuilding Oklahoma Metropolis final week. It’s one factor to be dangerous; it’s one other to be dangerous and disinterested.
• What’s subsequent? The Hawks are reportedly discussing an interim position with Nate McMillan, Pierce’s prime assistant and shut buddy. McMillan could be a powerful alternative. He’s months faraway from a profitable four-year stint with the Pacers (underneath McMillan, Indiana had a profitable file yearly and made the playoffs every season) and has a popularity for being a hard-nosed disciplinarian. Atlanta may use a few of that. Trae Younger is a dynamic offensive participant, however he’s a legal responsibility defensively. There appeared at occasions to be a disconnect between Younger and Pierce. McMillan, a former NBA level guard and a recent voice, might be able to get by to him. For the Hawks to succeed, Younger needs to be greater than a one-dimensional participant.
Don’t be shocked to see Atlanta surge in the subsequent two months, both. Bogdanovic is inching towards a return. De’Andre Hunter will probably be again sooner or later, too. The Hawks have been above .500 (10–9) when Hunter went down with a knee harm final month. The second-year guard was off to a terrific begin, averaging 17.2 factors by the first 18 video games. McMillan is a superb coach, but when Atlanta improves, well being will probably be a key cause.
• Pierce’s legacy. As a coach, Pierce’s two-plus seasons with the Hawks have been forgettable. His influence in Atlanta was not. Pierce grew to become a number one voice throughout the social justice motion final spring. He spoke out about police brutality. About racial injustice. About voting rights. He spoke at rallies. He marched in demonstrations. He was concerned in the Hawks choice to show State Farm Area right into a polling station final fall. He labored with the workforce to make Juneteenth a paid firm vacation. Professionally, Pierce will land on his toes: He stays part of Gregg Popovich’s USA Basketball teaching employees that may compete in Tokyo this summer season, and with greater than a decade of NBA expertise, Pierce will probably be a wanted prime assistant, maybe even in San Antonio, the place Popovich is coach. He will probably be a head coach once more. What he did final yr, nonetheless, serving as a powerful, calming voice throughout a racially charged time received’t quickly be forgotten.