Multiple Hawks Players Reportedly Wanted Coaching Change

There was hope entering the season in Atlanta that the previously-existent friction between Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce and star guard Trae Young would be a thing of the past, but it reemerged as the season progressed, according to Chris Kirschner, Sam Amick, and David Aldridge of The Athletic. And the Athletic trio suggests that Young wasn’t the only Hawks player frustrated by Pierce’s coaching style.

Sources tell The Athletic that several members of the Hawks were “eager to hear a new voice,” and that multiple players recently shared their desire for a change with team management. By the time Pierce was let go on Monday, player support for him was dwindling, per Kirschner, Amick, and Aldridge.

As the trio details, there wasn’t a single moment this season that resulted in Pierce losing the locker room, but it happened over time due to a number of small moments that added up.

“There’s no telling when he lost it,” a source close to the team told The Athletic. “He didn’t have support from many people. It came down to him not being able to manage egos. That’s what did him in, especially these young guys. It’s tough.”

The Athletic’s report, which is worth checking out in full if you’re a subscriber, includes many other interesting tidbits on the Hawks’ coaching change. Here are a few highlights:

  • Pierce’s job security was already tenuous by the end of the 2019/20 season, but a number of factors – including the abrupt hiatus and Pierce’s strong voice during the social justice movement – helped save his job for the time being, according to The Athletic’s report.
  • Multiple Hawks players felt last season as if they weren’t having their concerns heard when they approached Pierce about them, and started going to assistant coach Chris Jent with those concerns instead, per The Athletic. Players once again felt unheard this season when they asked Pierce about adjusting the late-game offense to make it more free-flowing.
  • Sources tell The Athletic that Cam Reddish was among the players who bristled at Pierce’s coaching style and felt as if he was being “picked on” behind the scenes. According to Kirschner, Amick, and Aldridge, some Hawks players believe Reddish’s ceiling is as high as anyone’s on the roster and thought Pierce’s approach was stunting his development.
  • The Hawks’ fourth-quarter struggles this season bothered team owner Tony Ressler, who “grew incensed” when the club kept losing winnable games by blowing late leads, per The Athletic’s trio. GM Travis Schlenk has said the decision to fire Pierce was his and his front office’s, but at the very least, Ressler had to sign off on it.
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17 thoughts on “Multiple Hawks Players Reportedly Wanted Coaching Change

  1. arthur blank_for owner

    I’m in Atlanta and that’s what local reports have been saying all day….contrary to the other comment threads it was strictly an X’s and O’s thing and not related to anyone’s race which ok believe it or not

    • SheaGoodbye

      Yeah, the ego thing just seems like spin except maybe for Trae. Regardless, Pierce did not do a good job and had lost the locker room. Had to go.

  2. Jimmy Fitzsimmons

    Whatever happened to putting egos aside? None of these fools have won anything to warrant any sort of ego in the locker room. The man is a basketball coach and not a babysitter.

  3. Curtisrowe

    I would fire anyone that picked on Cam Reddish too. Cam seems totally cool. Don’t pick on Cam.

  4. phillyballers

    So it was about race. The playoff race, and the Hawks are on the outside looking in, when they went into the season with playoff expectations. Pierces way wasn’t getting it done and the main young players didn’t buy in. If he wants a job tho, I’d take him back on the Sixers bench in a heartbeat.

  5. tonyinsingapore

    If Hawks players want a free-flow offense then good luck with McMillan. Pacers fan here and Nate is a great man; and the P’s offense was near the bottom of the league every year in shooting 3’s. Intense defense is Nate’s game and he’s a disciplinarian too.

    • x%sure

      Pierce was probably hired for what he got fired for.

      But from the getgo he was to be a teacher of young players after Schlenk started a rebuild, so the clock was ticking after Ressler changed course with FA buys.

      Although this was done without apparent concern for the fit of the pieces, Pierce was doomed to cycle through again, like the BRK coach.

      • phillyballers

        He was a defensive minded coach no? And the brought in 2 big FAs that don’t play defense and actually haven’t played much. They could have targeted defensive upgrades and they just went for names. Onus is on the GM too, probably should not get much more run.

  6. El Don

    I didn’t realize Pierce had issues with the players, specially his young stars… that kind of changes the whole situation.
    I mean guys like Trae or JC are one of a kind, a HC there hundreds that can do what any HC does in the NBA, a great coach ain’t gonna make a bad team win, although a bad coach can diminish somewhat a good team but just marginally, that is why a coach that picks a fight with a star player must lose, like all the time.
    So that is all on Pierce, maybe if he ever gets another chance he will have learned to be a Yes Man type of guy, which will make him into a much better coach.

    • x%sure

      Trae & JC may have just read the sites and acted like fans. McMillan isnt really that flexible either! Pierce was a surprise hire in the first place, and Trae has already shown as impatient.

  7. KnickerbockerAl

    Managing egos in sport’s is no easy thing. If you don’t have players respect. They will tune you out. All the coaches Knicks have gone thru. And now Thibs here and finally gets thru to these guys. Not easy for any coach. I think Hawks had to do it they were underachieving. They may luck out cause McMillan is a solid coach. And he has something to prove like Thibs had. I like Hawks talent.

  8. Northern Expansion 416

    Trae wanted a change because he thinks he’s better than he is. All he does is launch himself into opposing players, cry for calls, act like he’s Curry and he prefers to be player of the game than do whatever it takes to win. Collins doesn’t get nearly enough touches on a consistent basis.

    • I have to agree. In his third season now Trae is still yet to shoot above 43% from the field or 38% from 3. Yeah he had the ability to explode but he’s playing at a late 90s/early 00s level of efficiency and that’s just not gonna get the job done

      • Lionel Muggeridge

        Collins shoots a high percentage and doesn’t get even get 15 shots.

  9. Buckman

    1. Most coaches will eventually get fired.
    2. Losing coaches get fired faster.

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