Nate McMillan

Scotto’s Latest: Irving, Rockets, McMillan, D. Williams, Goodwin, Sumner

It seemed highly unlikely at times this past summer and fall that Nets star Kyrie Irving would even finish the season in Brooklyn, let alone stick with the team beyond 2022/23. But now several executives around the NBA believe that Irving will remain with the Nets this summer rather than leaving for a new team in free agency, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

“I think Kyrie ends up with a short extension with the Nets,” one executive predicted. “A sign-and-trade for Kyrie this summer would be tough given the length needed and assets to make it happen from another team. I think there’s an incentive for an extension on a one-plus-one or two-year deal.”

The Lakers, who were rumored to have interest in Irving during the 2022 offseason, loom as perhaps the biggest threat to lure him away from the Nets during the summer of 2023. They’re currently on track to open up about $30MM in cap space and could offer Kyrie the opportunity to form a Big Three alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • The Rockets are expected to go “star hunting” during the offseason, according to Scotto, who notes that Houston will have a significant chunk of cap space and wants to be more competitive in 2023/24.
  • Echoing previous reports, Scotto says the prevailing belief from outside the Hawks‘ organization is that head coach Nate McMillan won’t still be coaching the team next season.
  • Donovan Williams‘ new two-way contract with the Hawks covers next season in addition to the rest of this one, according to Scotto, who tweets that Atlanta has long been intrigued by Williams’ upside.
  • Wizards two-way player Jordan Goodwin is a strong candidate to be promoted to Washington’s 15-man roster before the end of this season, assuming the team can open up a spot, league sources tell Scotto. Goodwin is 10th among Wizards in minutes played this season, having earned playing time over several players who are on standard contracts.
  • Before he signed with the Nets over the summer, guard Edmond Sumner also received interest from the Suns, Pistons, and Pacers, per Scotto. Sumner worked out for Phoenix and had a workout scheduled with Detroit that he had to miss due to COVID-19.

Hawks Rumors: McMillan, Young, Schlenk, Collins

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.

Nate McMillan Responds To Resignation Rumors

Shortly after Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Friday that Hawks head coach Nate McMillan had “strongly considered” the possibility of resigning from his position, McMillan met with reporters for a pregame press conference ahead of the team’s matchup with the Lakers. Predictably, the first question he received focused on Charania’s report.

“I read that article briefly,” McMillan responded (Twitter video link via Brad Rowland). “I’ve never spoken to that reporter before. I think the last two weeks, he’s written a couple articles with some sources in our organization that are making some comments about me and some things that I’m saying and doing.”

Earlier in December, Charania also received a byline (along with Sam Amick) on a story about a verbal confrontation between McMillan and star Trae Young, which is presumably the other report McMillan was referring to.

“Look, at the end of the year, I’ll do as I’ll always done,” McMillan continued. “At the end of the season, I talk with my family and see if I still have that flame, that fire to continue next season. But that’s the end of the season. All of us think about retiring. But that’s at the end of the season.

“We’re going to move on past that, that story. We have a (playoff) race to prepare for. We’re trying to get our guys healthy and make another run at the playoffs. But the things that were reported — look, I’m here to coach this team and I’ve talked to (team owner) Tony (Ressler) many times. Our goal is to make the playoffs and that’s what we’re working towards.

After concluding his statement, McMillan waited a beat and jokingly added, “So we’ve squashed that, right?”

While it sounds like McMillan doesn’t intend to step down from his position anytime soon, his comments probably won’t quell speculation about his long-term future in Atlanta. Charania wrote that McMillan “appears to be near the end of his tenure with the Hawks after the season,” suggesting that either the head coach or the team (or both) may want to move on in the spring. That still sounds like a very real possibility.

Of course, winning solves a lot of problems, so if McMillan can replicate his second-half success from the last two seasons, perhaps his future will look a whole lot different a few months from now. McMillan, who took over for Lloyd Pierce midway through the 2020/21 campaign, led the team to a 27-11 record and two playoff series wins that year. In ’21/22, following a 17-25 start, Atlanta went 26-14 the rest of the way and won a pair of play-in games to secure a postseason berth.

This season, following a splashy summer trade for Dejounte Murray, the Hawks are once again off to a slow start. The club has lost three games in a row and nine of its last 13 to drop its overall record to 17-19. Atlanta holds the No. 9 seed in the East and is only ahead of the No. 11 Raptors by a single game.

Hawks’ Nate McMillan Has Considered Resigning

Hawks head coach Nate McMillan has “strongly considered” the possibility of resigning from his position, league sources with knowledge of the situation tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Charania’s report comes just weeks after he and Sam Amick of The Athletic described a verbal confrontation between McMillan and Hawks star Trae Young. McMillan’s job security came into question following that incident, per Charania, but sources tell The Athletic that his job has been considered safe and the team wants him to finish the season in his role.

However, McMillan “appears to be near the end of his tenure with the Hawks after the season,” Charania writes, which presumably means the club is mulling the idea of making a coaching change in the spring — if McMillan hasn’t stepped down before then.

Sources tell The Athletic that no McMillan resignation is imminent and that he and new head of basketball operations Landry Fields have had positive recent conversations about the direction of the team.

Still, Charania points to the alleged confrontation between McMillan and Young as a sign of the “disconnect” between the two. Given that Young is in the first season of a five-year, $215MM contract, he’s unlikely to be the odd man out if the franchise ultimately has to make a decision between its head coach and its star player.

As Charania observes, McMillan spoke last week about the challenges of coaching today’s players, telling reporters, “They see the game different than when I played it and when I started coaching.”

The Hawks hoped to take a major step forward this year after trading for Dejounte Murray over the summer, but it has been up and down season in Atlanta so far. The team has an underwhelming 17-18 record and ranks ninth in the Eastern Conference.

McMillan was initially hired in 2020 by Travis Schlenk, first as an assistant, then as Lloyd Pierce‘s replacement in 2021. Schlenk transitioned last week from Atlanta’s president of basketball operations to a senior advisory role.

According to Charania, the Hawks made some other changes to their front office while reassigning Schlenk and promoting Fields — senior adviser Rod Higgins, director of pro scouting Stephen Giles, and VP of player personnel Derek Pierce were all let go, sources tell The Athletic. It remains to be seen whether a coaching shake-up will follow the one that occurred in the front office.

Southeast Notes: Young, McMillan, Collins, Wright, Beal, Oladipo

Hawks guard Trae Young and head coach Nate McMillan both downplayed an alleged confrontation that occurred earlier this month, but there has been chatter that their relationship has gotten worse since then, according to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com, who said one league executive referred to the situation in Atlanta as “toxic.”

“When they win, everybody’s happy for a minute,” one source told Bulpett. “But when they lose, it gets messy. Instead of trying to get it figured out, there’s a lot of blame being thrown around.”

According to Bulpett, one opposing coach said that Young and McMillan don’t like each other, and suggested that “other players have issues with Trae” as well.

“There were teams that questioned whether he’d ever be this good because of his size when he was coming out,” a front office source said of Young. “So it’s good to have that kind of fight in you. But at some point, you’d hope he’d realize the effect he can have on his team, both positive and negative. Sometimes you have to take a step back and maybe take a hit to make the whole thing work.”

Meanwhile, although John Collins‘ name has once again come up in trade rumors, sources who spoke to Bulpett pointed to the big man’s contract as a potential roadblock as the Hawks seek a trade partner. He’s still owed $78.5MM across three seasons after this one.

“He’s not a bad player. He’s actually a good player,” a source told Bulpett. “The problem is he’s not worth 23-and-a-half million. There are places he could go where he’d really be helping a team and really be happy, but right now that contract is in the way. We’ll see if anyone’s going to bite or if Atlanta’s going to make it worth another team’s while.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Asked on Tuesday if there’s a chance Delon Wright will return to action for the Wizards on Thursday, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. responded, “I hope so,” tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Wright has been on the shelf for nearly two months, but finally seems on the verge of being reactivated.
  • In a story for The Athletic, Robbins and Jovan Buha explore whether it’s realistic to think the Wizards and Lakers could work out a trade that sends Bradley Beal to Los Angeles for Russell Westbrook and draft picks. Robbins is skeptical, but points out that Beal’s no-trade clause will make it challenging for the Wizards to maximize the guard’s value if he ever wants to be dealt, since he could veto deals to unwanted destinations.
  • With several Heat regulars unavailable, Victor Oladipo made his first start of the year and played a season-high 34 minutes in Tuesday’s loss to Chicago. As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays, head coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear after the game that he doesn’t intend to lean that heavily on Oladipo often as he continues to work his way back to 100%. “I wouldn’t have done this with Vic if it wasn’t clearly communicated with him and with the training staff and if we didn’t have two days after the last game, two days before the next game,” Spoelstra said.

McMillan: I Never Told Trae To Not Show Up

Hawks coach Nate McMillan denies he told star guard Trae Young not to show up for Friday’s game, according to Lauren Williams of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

A report from The Athletic on Sunday stated that McMillan and Young had a disagreement prior to the team’s shootaround while Young was getting treatment for a shoulder injury. The report indicated that McMillan, unhappy Young didn’t participate in the shootaround, told Young he could either play off the bench that night or not show up to the arena. Young reportedly chose the latter, with the team officially ruling his absence against the Nuggets due to right shoulder soreness.

Prior to Monday’s game against Oklahoma City, McMillan disputed that account.

“The one thing that I do want to respond (to), there was something said about me, telling Trae to not show up for a game,” he said. “I will never ever, and have never ever told a player not to show up for a game. Okay, that’s just false.”

McMillan also expressed irritation that details of his disagreement with Young became public.

“There is something happening every single day that we have to address and manage and a situation happened, that is private. Okay, it’s private,” he said. “It’s no different than any other day for me, in our group and a story was leaked about that situation. You know, those are things that we don’t normally talk about or address. You know, things happen with our players on a bus, on the plane in the hotels. I mean, we’re together a lot. We’re family.”

McMillan said he and his star player and “moving forward” from the situation. Young is back in action against the Thunder.

“Trae is a very competitive kid,” McMillan said. “He understands. He understands. We both want the same thing and that is to win games. And, again, things are gonna happen. We’re not going to agree on everything. I mean, that happens in your family, too, right? There’s not the perfect situation. And he’s going to be fine. He’s a 24-year-old man that has a lot of talent. He wants to win big. I want to win big. And we’re going to continue to work on ways to try to make that happen.”

Young addressed the dispute earlier in the day and was also disappointed that the matter became public.

Trae Young Downplays Argument With Coach

Hawks guard Trae Young insists a story about a verbal altercation he had with coach Nate McMillan was overblown, tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I mean, it was just a situation,” Young said Monday in his first public comments since the incident was reported (Twitter link). “I mean, we’re all grown men here. And there’s sometimes we don’t always agree. And it’s unfortunate that private situations and private conversations get out to the public. But I guess that’s what the world we live in now. But um, yeah, I’m just gonna just focus on basketball and focus on helping my team win. And that’s what I got to be focusing on.”

McMillan also downplayed the confrontation when he talked to the media on Sunday, saying it was a simple miscommunication.

Young had a disagreement with his coach on Friday that led to him sitting out that night’s game against the Nuggets. While Young was receiving treatment on his right shoulder, McMillan asked if he could participate in the pre-game shootaround, then get treatment during a walk-through in preparation to play. Young said he wanted to skip the shootaround and focus on his treatment, and then decide later if he would be available for the game.

McMillan wasn’t pleased that Young didn’t take part in the shootaround and reportedly told him not to come to the arena if he didn’t want to come off the bench. Young stayed away, and the Hawks said he was ruled out because of shoulder soreness.

The team didn’t take any disciplinary action against Young, and he’s expected to play tonight when Atlanta hosts Oklahoma City.

Young responded, “We’ll figure that out,” when Williams asked how he and McMillan will handle any future miscommunications (Twitter link).

In an appearance on Fan Duel TV (video link), Shams Charania of The Athletic called the dispute “a microcosm of the tension that’s existed” on the team. Charania adds that sources say McMillan’s job remains safe, so he and Young will have to work through their differences.

Hawks’ Trae Young Sat Out Friday After Tense Exchange With Coach Nate McMillan

Tensions have risen between Hawks star guard Trae Young and coach Nate McMillan, highlighted by a disagreement on Friday that led to Young choosing not to play against Denver on Friday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick report.

According to Charania and Amick, Young and McMillan had a verbal exchange during the Hawks’ shootaround prior to the game. As Young received treatment on his right shoulder, McMillan asked him whether he would participate in the shootaround, then receive treatment during the walk-through and play against the Nuggets. Young told McMillan he wanted to miss the shootaround to focus on his treatment and decide later on whether he could play.

McMillan was unhappy Young didn’t participate in the shootaround and told Young he could either play off the bench that night or not show up to the arena. Young chose the latter, with the team officially ruling his absence due to right shoulder soreness.

The team didn’t take any disciplinary action against its franchise player. Young practiced fully on Sunday and will play on Monday against the Thunder.

McMillan on Sunday told reporters that it was a simple miscommunication between him and Young.

However, this has hardly been the only issue regarding McMillan and his players this season, according to The Athletic duo. The Hawks have held multiple team meetings already to resolve various conflicts.

For now, McMillan’s job appears safe. He signed a four-year contract to become the franchise’s full-time head coach after leading the Hawks to the conference finals as an interim coach in 2021. Both Young and McMillan are cognizant of the fact they’ll need to improve their relationship in order for the franchise to become a serious contender again.

In the meantime, Young’s leadership is under scrutiny since he also played a role in Lloyd Pierce’s dismissal, which led to McMillan replacing him. Young is in the first year of a five-year max extension.

The Hawks are looking to make a significant trade to improve their prospects of making a run. They’ve been shopping forward John Collins, who is currently sidelined with an ankle sprain. The Nets are among the teams who have expressed interest.

Hawks Notes: Murray, Young, J. Johnson, McMillan

The Hawks are committed to fixing the defensive issues that held them back last season, and trading for Dejounte Murray is an important part of that effort, writes Aaron Wilson of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta paid a high price for Murray, sending three first-round picks and a future pick swap to the Spurs, but it landed a 26-year-old All-Star guard with a team-friendly contract.

Murray excelled at both ends of the court in San Antonio, averaging 21.1 points per game and leading the NBA in steals with 2.0 per night. He seems like an ideal backcourt partner for Trae Young and said he’s ready to set the defensive tone for his new teammates.

“Defense is about showing effort,” Murray said. “I will bring what I learned both as a leader and vocally as everyone buys in. Everyone has to buy in and push each other and seeing everyone showing up was good. Ready to go compete and earn my team’s trust in training camp.”

There’s more from Atlanta:

  • Young was a strong advocate for acquiring Murray and he believes they can succeed together, per Lauren Williams of The Journal-Constitution. In four NBA seasons, Young has never played alongside another guard with Murray’s defensive skills. “It’s hard to point out what he’s great at, but he’s good at everything — like defense, scoring, passing, rebounding,” Young said. “I mean, he’s really good at everything. So just having somebody who’s going to be just as dependent as I am in the backcourt, which is going to be the fun, I can’t wait to get started.”
  • Jalen Johnson looks forward to carving out a larger role after an offseason procedure to deal with tendinitis in his left knee, Williams adds in a separate story. The 20-year-old forward averaged just 5.5 minutes in 22 games as a rookie, and playing time may be even harder to come by with the offseason additions of Maurice Harkless and Frank Kaminsky. “He’s got to earn that opportunity,” coach Nate McMillan said. “He’s been here since August, and he’s working on doing that. He’s been playing and looking good. I thought last year, his play in the G League, he’s showing maturity and he’s showing some confidence and he’s looking forward to the challenge.”
  • McMillan visited Young’s Oklahoma City home in June to talk about improving their communication for the upcoming season, according to Paul Newberry of The Associated Press. McMillan wants to see Young become more of a team leader on and off the court. “He’s the face of the franchise and it’s something that he has just inherited,” McMillan said. “He will have to work at it and become better.”

Landry Fields: Hawks “Bet On The Character Makeup” Of Trae Young, Dejounte Murray

The Hawkstrade for Dejounte Murray was about finding a backcourt partner who fits well alongside Trae Young, general manager Landry Fields said in an interview with Mark Medina of NBA.com. Atlanta paid a steep price for Murray, sending three first-round picks and a pick swap to San Antonio along with Danilo Gallinari, but Fields believes the deal was worth it to find a possible long-time complement to Young.

Murray and Young have both been primary ball-handlers throughout their careers, so they’ll have to work on blending their offensive games together. Defensively, Murray can take on the toughest matchups and make it more difficult for opponents to exploit Young.

“We bet on the character makeup of Trae and Dejounte,” Fields said. “Both of those guys want to win, and will do what it takes to win. They need that because their roles will be a lot different than they were last year, from both respective teams. As long as they’re able to do what it takes, Coach [Nate McMillan] then comes in and is able to get creative with how they’ll operate. From a front-office standpoint, we’ll determine if we need to inject more here, here or here. Hopefully, all three of those are working at the same time.”

Fields addresses several other topics during the interview, including:

The trade that sent Kevin Huerter to the Kings in exchange for Justin Holiday, Maurice Harkless and a future first-round pick:

“Justin Holiday gives us more length around the perimeter and an ability to shoot from the perimeter. That opens things up for Trae and Dejounte with an ability to space the floor. That gives room for Clint [Capela] and John [Collins] as they’re working down in the interior. Hopefully, De’Andre [Hunter] continues to take the steps that he needs.

“With Moe, he’s a guy that plays hard and gives us depth at the four. It’s helpful in that regard. He’s a vet. He’s got great character and we like what he brings to the locker room. He’s not the most outgoing guy, but enough so that we feel there’s an impact there, too.”

John Collins, who has been the subject of frequent trade speculation since re-signing with the Hawks last offseason:

“This isn’t one of those, ‘We have to get off of John.’ That’s absurd. There’s a misinterpretation of that. You always think of the player from that standpoint because he is constantly in talks. You try to make sure with him that we check in and make sure he’s doing all right. It’s something where it’s less about wondering if he’s the long-term fit and it’s more about the fact that he gets called on a lot. The moment those calls come up, people talk. Then all of a sudden, here we are in the media with this thought that John Collins is not wanted by the Hawks.”

The status of McMillan, who reportedly could be on the hot seat if Atlanta gets off to another slow start:

“Coach has been great. After the season, as a staff, [president of basketball operations] Travis [Schlenk] had a chance to sit with him. He was working with him throughout the offseason. It’s his renewed approach to things and his viewpoints. He was leading by taking ownership and responsibility. It was good to see. You need that. I know he’s excited about the group. But he’s also hungry to get back to where we are, too. He’s been here day in and day out in Vegas. He’s been in the gym at our facility. He’s always been there.”