Derek Pierce

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.

Hawks Name Tori Miller GM Of G League Team

The Hawks have promoted Tori Miller to the role of general manager of the College Park Skyhawks, the team announced today in a press release. The move makes Miller the first woman to ever hold the title of GM in NBA G League history.

Miller, a native of Decatur, Georgia, began her career as a basketball operations intern with the Suns. She eventually joined Atlanta’s G League affiliate – then the Erie BayHawks – as the club’s manager of basketball operations before being named the Skyhawks’ assistant GM in July 2019.

Chris Kirschner of The Athletic published a profile of Miller shortly after last summer’s promotion, noting that her goal is to eventually become the general manager of an NBA team.

“I want to create that path,” Miller told The Athletic at the time. “I want to be the one person where others say, ‘Hey, Tori Miller did it. I want to do it as well.'”

In addition to Miller’s promotion, the Hawks and Skyhawks announced a handful of other promotions and hires. Notably, former Skyhawks GM Derek Pierce will remain in the organization and will continue to oversee Atlanta’s scouting department as the Hawks’ VP of player personnel.

Atlanta also promoted Dwight Lutz to senior director of basketball strategy and analytics and Zac Walsh to director of team operations, among other moves.

Hawks Extend, Promote Travis Schlenk

3:39pm: The Hawks have formally issued a press release announcing that they’ve promoted Schlenk to president of basketball operations. The announcement doesn’t mention an extension, but it seems safe to assume that it’s official now too.

The Hawks also announced many more promotions and hires, including (but not limited to):

  • Dan Martinez to VP of team operations
  • Derek Pierce to VP of player personnel
  • Dotun Akinwale Jr. to director of scouting
  • Mike McNeive to director of player personnel
  • Daniel Starkman to senior manager of basketball operations
  • Nick Ressler to manager of basketball operations

“We are extremely pleased with the direction that Travis and our entire basketball operations team has us heading as a franchise,” Hawks owner Tony Ressler said in a statement. “He has used the draft to build an impressive young core, hired one of the NBA’s top young coaches in Lloyd Pierce and positioned us to have the cap space, draft picks and financial flexibility needed to have long-term success in the NBA.”

2:39pm: The Hawks have reached a deal with general manager Travis Schlenk on a new multiyear contract extension, reports Zach Klein of WSB-TV (Twitter link). Confirming Klein’s report, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that an official announcement from the team will likely come within the next day or so.

Schlenk took over as Atlanta’s head of basketball operations during the spring of 2017 after the team re-assigned GM Wes Wilcox and removed Mike Budenholzer‘s president of basketball operations title.

Since joining the Hawks, Schlenk has launched a full-fledged rebuild, accumulating draft assets and making strong use of his own first-round picks, having selected John Collins in 2017 and Trae Young and Kevin Huerter in 2018.

It remains to be seen whether this year’s lottery picks (De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish) will look as promising as Collins, Young, and Huerter have, and Schlenk faced some criticism for trading the pick that became Luka Doncic. Still, the former Warriors executive has the Hawks pointed in the right direction as one of the NBA’s up-and-coming teams.

After going 24-58 during Schlenk’s first year running the show, the team won 29 games last season and will look to improve upon that number in 2019/20.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.