The Atlanta Hawks have fired head coach Lloyd Pierce, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday evening. The Hawks enter Monday with a 14-20 record, sitting well outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks had high hopes entering the season after a busy offseason, acquiring multiple pieces to try and get back into the NBA playoffs. Pierce is let go after just three seasons as head coach.
Atlanta has dismissed Lloyd Pierce as coach, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 1, 2021
Here’s some good news for Hawks fans. Assistant coach Nate McMillan will take over as interim coach, per Woj. McMillan was let go by the Indiana Pacers this offseason and is one of the more experienced and successful coaches in the NBA. He’s made the playoffs 9 out of 16 seasons as a head coach for the Seattle Super Sonics, Portland Trail Blazers and Pacers.
Pierce was in the middle of his third season as Hawks head coach and will finish his tenure in Atlanta with a putrid 63-120 record in that span. Atlanta made multiple moves this offseason to get better and fill in talent around PG Trae Young and PF John Collins. The big move was acquiring Bogdan Bogdanovic on an offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings. The Hawks also added PF Danilo Gallinari, veteran PG Rajon Rondo and veteran G Kris Dunn to fill out the roster. Atlanta was able to get C Onyeka Okongwu in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft.
Pierce wasn’t a great head coach but this isn’t all on him. The Hawks have been ravaged by injuries this season, mostly to some of those key players. Bogdanovic has only played 9 games for his new team De’Andre Hunter has been sidelined due to a knee injury. Cam Reddish has been missing games recently with an Achilles injury. Dunn has yet to play a game in a Hawks uniform. Okongwu has been a non-factor, again, because of injury. Tony Snell, Rondo, Gallo, the list goes on and on.
The issue is the Hawks never improved much on defense despite keeping most of the core intact and healthy this season. Clint Capela has been an anchor down low but the Hawks are still allowing 113.1 points per game, 22nd in the NBA. The Hawks are also middle of the pack on offense, scoring as many points as they allow.
Pierce is the second NBA head coach to be fired this season. Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders was fired last weekend.