Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff opened up about the firing of Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce, saying that he "couldn't have been more disappointed in the decision" (via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com):
Pierce was fired Monday after a 14-20 start to the season. Assistant Nate McMillan, who was a head coach for 16 seasons, was named the interim head coach.
Bickerstaff praised Pierce's dedication to getting the league involved in social justice efforts amid the pandemic, saying that "no one had a larger impact in their community" than Pierce, who was one of six Black head coaches in the NBA.
Pierce served alongside Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers as a board member on the league's Social Justice Coalition.
"I honestly, I feel the duty-bound responsibility, the duty-bound motivation to keep doing this, because I know it's greater than 'this is just about me,'" Pierce said last July, via Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Bickerstaff also acknowledged that the Hawks, who are focused around building around Trae Young and John Collins through offseason additions that haven't quite panned out, are struggling amid injuries, and he said the decision to put the blame on Lloyd reflects a a lack of understanding of "what it takes to build a team."
Pierce led the Hawks to a 63-120 record since his hire in 2018 and did not make the postseason.
"Somebody is going to be extremely fortunate to get Lloyd Pierce on their sidelines," Bickerstaff said. "I look forward to that for Lloyd and his family as well."