JULY 8: The Hawks have officially announced McMillan’s new long-term deal with the team.
“The incredible job Nate did after taking over this season made this an easy decision,” Schlenk said in a statement. “We were able to see how gifted a tactician, motivator and leader he is first-hand and the high level of respect and trust he earned from our players made securing him as our head coach our top priority.”
JULY 5: The Hawks have an agreement in place with Nate McMillan that will make him the team’s permanent head coach, president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk told reporters today (Twitter link via Chris Kirschner of The Athletic). McMillan’s new contract will be a four-year deal, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
Schlenk said the two sides are “drawing up” the contract, so an official announcement should come soon (Twitter link via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype). According to Schlenk, the Hawks and McMillan reached a deal in principle on the morning after the squad advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals (Twitter link via Marc Stein).
McMillan began the 2020/21 season as an assistant on Lloyd Pierce‘s staff. However, after Atlanta got off to a 14-20 start, Pierce was let go and McMillan took over as the interim head coach. The Hawks finished the season on a 27-11 run and then beat the Knicks and Sixers in the first two rounds of the playoffs before pushing the Bucks to six games in the Eastern Finals.
Although they entered the year with playoff aspirations, even the Hawks weren’t counting on getting to within two wins of the NBA Finals. McMillan helped Atlanta exceed expectations in both the regular season and the postseason, all but guaranteeing the team would attempt to keep him around on a permanent basis.
There were rumors that the veteran coach – who previously led the Pacers, Trail Blazers, and SuperSonics – might draw interest from other suitors, but it appears he never seriously considered moving elsewhere. Schlenk said today that the Hawks offered McMillan the permanent job before the regular season ended (Twitter link via Kirschner).
McMillan has an overall regular season record of 688-599 (.535) during his NBA coaching career. That puts him 20th overall on the all-time list of coaching victories, and fourth among active head coaches, behind only Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, and Rick Carlisle.