Hawks Rumors: Nate McMillan Has 'Strong Momentum' to Be Named Permanent HC

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 21, 2021

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 18: Interim head coach Nate McMillan of the Atlanta Hawks reacts during the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at State Farm Arena on March 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Atlanta Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan didn't just win enough to push the team to the postseason, he may have won over the front office, too.

According to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic, McMillan's odds of retaining his position on a full-time basis are climbing before he makes his playoff debut against the New York Knicks this weekend. 

Stadium @Stadium

"There's strong momentum toward the Hawks making Nate McMillan their permanent head coach."<br><br>Our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania has the latest on Nate McMillan's status with the Hawks. pic.twitter.com/2ER45Ev9g2

"There's strong momentum toward the Hawks making Nate McMillan their permanent head coach," Charania said. 

The Hawks have gone 27-11 since McMillan took over for Lloyd Pierce on March 1 after previously starting the season 14-20.  

That not only catapulted Atlanta into the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, but helped ensure the Hawks would reach the postseason without having to compete in the league's Play-In tournament. 

"I don't think you can make a case to get off of McMillan," Charania explained. "I think their hands are tied at this point. McMillan appears to be the guy."

Charania said no extension talks with McMillan have taken place yet—and aren't likely until after the season. That gives the head coach time to focus on his first-round series against the Knicks and an opportunity to exorcise his playoff demons. 

Only once in his nine playoff appearances as a head coach has McMillan led a team past the first round—and none of his teams have done so since the Seattle Supersonics lost the Western Conference Semifinals in 2005. 

Four straight first-round losses with the Indiana Pacers cost McMillan his job at the end of the 2020-21 season. 

After joining the Hawks as an assistant on Pierce's staff during the offseason, McMillan has quickly earned an opportunity to not only prove he can coach in the playoffs, but lock up the full-time job with Atlanta in the process.