If the NBA moves forward with a plan to have its top 22 teams resume the 2019/20 season, the Hawks would be one of the eight clubs left out. Amidst reports that the proposal has growing support, Atlanta head coach Lloyd Pierce told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols today that he’s still hoping his team will get a chance to be part of a return to play this summer.
“I coach the youngest team in the NBA,” Pierce said. “And the biggest thing we can benefit from is playing basketball, and the game has been taken away from all of us at this point. … If the season is going to resume and we’re still not a part of it, it hurts our growth, it hurts our product, it hurts our ability to continue the momentum that we need going into next season.”
A desire to be part of the NBA’s resumed season has apparently been unanimous throughout the Hawks’ organization — general manager Travis Schlenk has said he’s in favor of the franchise finishing the season, and team owner Tony Ressler reportedly expressed a similar sentiment on last Friday’s Board of Governors conference call.
As we noted in that story on Friday’s call, some of the NBA’s lottery-bound teams are concerned about facing a nine-month gap between games. Besides the potential impact such a lengthy layoff would have on fan interest, those clubs also don’t want to be apart from their players for so long.
That’s of particular concern for a young team focused on player development like Atlanta. Schlenk said last month that the Hawks would “play our guys” rather than sitting stars like Trae Young and John Collins, since the team wants those building blocks to get as much time on the court together as possible.
“I play young guys, I have young guys,” Pierce told Nichols. “They need game experience and so we need to play basketball, we want to play basketball.”