Nate McMillan to Become Permanent Head Coach of the Atlanta Hawks

Nate McMillan With Hawks Background

Nate McMillan has agreed to become the Atlanta Hawks’ full-time head coach.
McMillan took over as interim coach and led the Hawks to a 27-11 finish to the 2020-21 regular seaso.
Atlanta made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.

The Atlanta Hawks have removed the “interim” tag on Nate McMillan.

Hawks GM Travis Schlenk announced on Monday that the team has reached an agreement with McMillan that will make him the permanent head coach in Atlanta. Although the parties have yet to sign a contract, the deal is reportedly good for four seasons.

Hawks GM Travis Schlenk says they have a new agreement in place with Nate McMillan to be the team’s head coach.

The deal is for four years, a source tells @wojespn.

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 5, 2021

With 16 years of NBA head coaching experience under his belt, McMillan joined the Hawks as head assistant this season. But after the team got off to a poor start during the current campaign, he was asked to take over the team on an interim basis. The rest, as they say, is history.

Hawks Were 14-20 When McMillan Took Over

Hawks are 14-20, and have had multitude of injuries — especially among their key newcomers.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 1, 2021

The Hawks were 14-20 when Lloyd Pierce was fired as head coach and Nate McMillan took over on an interim basis. But Atlanta finished the season with a 27-11 record and jumped from 11th to 5th place in the Eastern Conference standings, making the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

Atlanta defeated the 4th seeded Knicks in the first round and then went on to score a huge upset against the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the second round. They stole Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals from the Bucks and forced a 2-2 tie after Game 4. But with Trae Young hurt, the Hawks could not keep up with the Bucks and ultimately bowed out after six games.

Despite coming up two wins short of their first Finals appearance since 1961, Atlanta’s success was unprecedented, given that they have a young core and newly added veterans during the offseason. But McMillan was able to connect with the team’s young core and blend in the newcomers to produce a fearless group that refused to be intimidated by the top teams. Now he has to prove that it wasn’t a fluke.

Interesting Offseason

Priority number one for the Hawks in the offseason is figuring out how to approach John Collins’ restricted free agency

— Hawks Nation (@HawksNationCP) July 4, 2021

Indeed, it will be an interesting offseason for McMillan and the Hawks with the upcoming restricted free agency of forward John Collins coming up next month. The Hawks will have to decide on what to do with Collins who was a key contributor during their playoff run. Aside from Collins, Lou Williams will be an unrestricted free agent, so Atlanta will have to decide on his fate too.

Otherwise, the Hawks will have their core ready to return next season and their main concern really would be keeping their players healthy. Hunter, Reddish, Bogdanovic, and Gallinari missed significant time during the regular season with injuries, If they can get everyone healthy for one full season, the Hawks should be in good shape.

But the new season will bring higher expectations and it’s always easier to go to the top that to say on top of the mountain. The East is now a much tougher conference with Brookyln, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee among the league’s elite teams. Keeping the Hawks hungry and fearless will be McMillan’s challenge.