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Atlanta Hawks fire head coach Nate McMillan; New coaching search begins

After finishing just four games above .500 under head coach Nate McMillan a season ago, the Atlanta Hawks made a blockbuster trade this offseason. They traded four first-round picks, plus Danilo Gallinari, to the San Antonio Spurs for guard Dejounte Murray, hoping he could be the missing piece to make an already good team into a great one.

Murray is still performing well, averaging over 20 points per game in his new threads, but the Hawks? Not so well. They’re currently one game below .500, coming well short of expectations.

While there’s plenty of time to turn their season around, it won’t be with coach McMillan at the helm.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hawks have fired McMillan. Assistant coach Joe Prunty will be taking over coaching duties for the final 23 games of the season.

After spending one season as the team’s assistant, McMillan was promoted to the full-time role in 2020. He ended up leading the Hawks to a 99-80 record across parts of three seasons, including an 11-12 record in the playoffs.

Prunty does have 37 games of head coaching experience under his belt, coming with the Milwaukee Bucks back in 2017. He led the team to a 21-16 record after Jason Kidd was let go.

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Atlanta Hawks immediately begin search for Nate McMillan’s replacement

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz
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While Prunty is taking over on an interim basis, the Hawks are expected to begin their search for a long-term solution. Ideally, one that can maximize Trae Young’s potential, finding a way to make the existing core work together better than McMillan could.

Wojnarowski notes that the Hawks have four specific priorities in mind as they begin their quest.

  • Player development
  • Accountability
  • Getting the Hawks to a top-10 offense and defense

The Hawks are expected to cast a wide net in their search, with names like former Utah coach Quin Snyder anticipated being near the top of their list of candidates. A few others Woj mentioned were current Milwaukee assistant Charles Lee as well as Golden State’s assistant Kenny Atkinson, who used to coach the Brooklyn Nets.

We’ll see how Prunty does with the squad for now, but he has to realize the Hawks’ job will be enticing for a number of coaches seeking a way back in.

Related: NBA Power Rankings: Which team heads into the second half in the No. 1 spot?