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A steady stream of star player-coach drama has occurred within the Atlanta Hawks. Unfortunately for coach Nate McMillan, the team officially gave up on his side of the beef and decided to cut ties.
According to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Atlanta Hawks dismissed McMillan as head coach on Tuesday amid a season full of acrimony with star guard Trae Young.
Disputes With Young Precede McMillan’s Dismissal
One dispute earlier in the season between McMillan and Young led to the star guard’s absence for one game.
READ: DISGRUNTLED ATLANTA HAWKS STAR TRAE YOUNG MISSED GAME OVER SPAT WITH COACH NATE MCMILLAN
After McMillan and Young engaged in a heated discussion during shootarounds on Dec. 2 (facing off against the Denver Nuggets), Young was declared out for the contest.
McMillan went 99-80 as Hawks coach since March 2021. When previous coach Lloyd Pierce was fired by the team, with Young reportedly in strong support of the decision, McMillan stepped in as interim lead and was elevated to full-time HC on July 5, 2021.
Critics of Young have called out his effect on having coaches fired. A bit of a bad apple in Atlanta.
“I mean, it was just a situation,” Young said regarding the altercation. “I mean, we’re all grown men here. And there’s sometimes we don’t always agree. And it’s unfortunate that private situations and private conversations get out to the public. But I guess that’s what the world we live in now.
“But um, yeah, I’m just gonna just focus on basketball and focus on helping my team win. And that’s what I got to be focusing on.”
A Bad Year For McMillan
Tensions flared after Young’s omission against the Nuggets, and reports of dissatisfaction with McMillan’s performance began to float to the top.
The team’s lack of success following a splash acquisition of Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray in the offseason also intensified frustrations.
Addressing the rumors of beef inside the Hawks organization, McMillan dismissed the drama but did mention potentially stepping away in the offseason to opt for retirement. McMillan alluded to his drive to lead the Hawks and whether it’d still be there by April.
McMillan won’t have the choice to make up his mind.
Will Trae Young Deter HC Candidates?
The ripple effect from this decision will beg more attention as to whether the hot-blooded Young is turning into the NBA’s version of Kyler Murray.
Difficult to lead; talented enough to have sway in the organization; and unable to mesh with new stars to put his team over the edge.
It’s a major consideration for coaching candidates once the Hawks start interviewing.
“Among the top characteristics in the search: player development, accountability and getting Hawks offense and defense into league’s Top 10,” Woj additionally reported.
Former Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson were suggested as potential top candidates.
Filling in as interim head coach is assistant Hawks coach Joe Prunty. Atlanta is 8th in the Eastern Conference standings, with a 29-30 record coming out of the All-Star break.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela
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