Hawks' Nate McMillan Enters COVID Protocols; Joe Prunty Reportedly to Be Acting HC

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 1, 2022

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 27: Head coach Nate McMillan looks on during the first half against the Chicago Bulls at State Farm Arena on December 27, 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 coach Nate McMillan has been placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols, the team announced Saturday.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, top assistant Chris Jent is also in the COVID-19 protocols, leaving assistant Joe Prunty as the acting coach.

Atlanta is scheduled to face the Portland Trail Blazers in its next game Monday.

The Hawks have been dealing with a significant outbreak of COVID-19, although several players were activated Saturday, including Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter. Trae Young also missed three games while in the protocols but returned last week.

The roster issues have led to a disappointing 2021-22 season, with the team falling to 16-19 after losing nine of the last 13 games. A year after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks have the fourth-worst record in the conference.

McMillan took over for Lloyd Pierce early last season, going 27-11 as an interim coach before the shocking run in the postseason. The 10 playoff wins were his most in a single run after 17 seasons as an NBA head coach across four organizations.

It was enough for the 57-year-old to earn the full-time job in July, creating high expectations that have yet to be reached.

Prunty will now take charge for the struggling squad until McMillan clears protocols. The assistant is in his first year with Atlanta, but he has significant experience across the NBA over the past two decades. He also spent 37 games as an interim coach for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2017-18 in place of Jason Kidd.