Report: Trae Young, Hawks Players Were 'Eager' for Change Before Pierce Firing

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2021

Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce talks to guard Trae Young (11) on the sideline during the first half of the team's preseason NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Several Atlanta Hawks players, including All-Star guard Trae Young, were reportedly "eager to hear a new voice" and informed team management of the need for a coaching change before Lloyd Pierce was fired Monday.  

Chris Kirschner, Sam Amick and David Aldridge of The Athletic reported Tuesday that friction developed between Young and Pierce, and it became apparent the coach's support was "dwindling" throughout the Hawks roster as of late.

Atlanta hired Pierce in May 2018 and made a draft-night trade with the Dallas Mavericks one month later to swap two of the 2018 class' top prospects, Young and Luka Doncic.

Tensions would build between the first-time head coach and the dynamic scorer over their first two years together, but they met in Southern California in October to talk through their "strained" relationship and chart a more understanding path forward, according to The Athletic's report.

The front office also tried to do its part, acquiring Danilo Gallinari in a sign-and-trade deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder and making a handful of free-agent signings, led by Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn, who's yet to make his team debut because of knee and ankle injuries.

Atlanta failed to take a leap in the first half of the 2020-21 season, though. It ranks 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 14-20 record, including a 3-7 mark over its past 10 games.

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Along with Young, forward John Collins and guard Cam Reddish were among the Hawks players who didn't mesh well with Pierce's style of coaching, per The Athletic.

The team elevated assistant Nate McMillan to the role of interim head coach while it searches for a full-time replacement. McMillan previously served as head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers, compiling a 661-588 record across 16 seasons.

Atlanta will hope the change can spark a surge toward a playoff berth during the second half of the campaign.

But first, the Hawks have two more road games before the All-Star break as they face the Miami Heat on Tuesday and the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.