It’s becoming increasingly likely that this will be Nate McMillan‘s final season as head coach of the Hawks, according to Lauren Williams and Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sources tell the authors that a player agent was informed that McMillan won’t be returning in a recent meeting with team owner Tony Ressler and his son, manager of basketball and business operations Nick Ressler.
Star guard Trae Young has been involved in disputes with McMillan, although their relationship has reportedly been smoother since an incident that was highly publicized in early December. Williams and Vivlamore hear from several sources that McMillan has considered resigning (as previously reported), but team officials were able to talk him out of it. When asked for a response, McMillan said he is focused on the playoff race and will delay any decisions on his future until after the season.
New head of basketball operations Landry Fields and Kyle Korver, who is finalizing a deal to become assistant general manager, both denied talking to agents about the team’s plans for McMillan.
“We’ve got half a season (left),” Fields said. “That’s a lot of basketball. There’s been transition. There’s been stories that come out. There’s been so much investment that we have to have today to think about beyond this season. It’s not just like Nate, it’s with a lot of different people. Like for us, how are we thinking about ourselves going forward?
“To start to live into that space without honoring this space would be unfair for everyone involved — Nate, myself, Kyle included — like, that’s somewhere. We believe in Nate right now. He’s for us. He’s trying to do things in this whole transition of leadership that are hard. They’re hard for everyone. So having this partnership right now for the objectives that we have for this continued season is our only focus.”
There’s more on the Hawks, all from Williams and Vivlamore:
- The relationship between Young and former president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk deteriorated over the past few months, leading to Schlenk’s decision to move into an advisory role in December, according to the authors’ sources. They add that even though Schlenk is listed as a senior advisor, he’s had no actual input into the organization since stepping down, confirming a recent Sam Amick report. The dispute reportedly began after Game 2 of last season’s playoff series when Young chartered a private flight home from Miami without telling anyone from the team. He was subsequently fined.
- Several controversial personnel decisions led to the front office shakeup, sources tell Williams and Vivlamore. Among them was a John Collins trade last season that was ultimately vetoed by ownership. Other moves include the trade of Kevin Huerter to the Kings made just to avoid the luxury tax, the high price the team paid to the Spurs for Dejounte Murray, the signing of Aaron Holiday, who was Nick Ressler’s teammate in high school, and the trade of Luka Doncic to the Mavericks after drafting him in 2018.
- The Hawks are focused on portraying an atmosphere of stability amid all the recent changes, Williams and Vivlamore add. The organization is looking for a new uniform sponsor and doesn’t want to scare away a potential advertiser with any appearance of turmoil.