Nate McMillan named interim head coach of Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Travis Schlenk announced today that assistant coach Nate McMillan has been named interim head coach of the team.

McMillan joined the Hawks coaching staff on Nov. 11, 2020. As head coach with Seattle (2000-05), Portland (2005-12) and Indiana (2016-20), McMillan led his teams to a 661-588 (.529) mark in 1,249 career regular season games and has 53 games of postseason coaching experience. Last season, the Pacers finished 45-28 (.616), second in the Central Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. In his four years with Indiana, the club recorded a 183-136 mark (.574), advancing to the playoffs each season.

Hawks fire head coach Lloyd Pierce

Atlanta Hawks President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Travis Schlenk announced today that Lloyd Pierce has been relieved of his head coaching duties.

“We would like to thank Lloyd for his work and commitment to not only the Hawks organization but the city of Atlanta. He and his wife, Melissa, are tremendous people who have made a positive impact throughout the city,” said Schlenk. “We have high expectations for our team on the court and we believe by making this change now that we can have a strong second half of the season.”

Pierce was named the 13th full-time head coach in Hawks history on May 11, 2018. He compiled a 63-120 (.344) in 183 games.

Atlanta Dream sold to Larry Gottesdiener, Renee Montgomery and Suzanne Abair

The WNBA and NBA Boards of Governors have unanimously approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream to Larry Gottesdiener, Chairman of Northland, an industry-leading national real estate firm. The three-member investor group is comprised of former Dream star Renee Montgomery, Northland President and Chief Operating Officer Suzanne Abair, and Gottesdiener.

“With the unanimous WNBA and NBA votes, today marks a new beginning for the Atlanta Dream organization and we are very pleased to welcome Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair to the WNBA,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “I admire their passion for women’s basketball, but more importantly, have been impressed with their values. I am also thrilled that former WNBA star Renee Montgomery will be joining the ownership group as an investor and executive for the team. Renee is a trailblazer who has made a major impact both in the game and beyond.”

“It is a privilege to join a team of inspiring women who strive for excellence on the court and equity off the court,” said Larry Gottesdiener. “I would like to express my gratitude to Commissioner Engelbert, Commissioner Silver, and the WNBA and NBA Boards of Governors for the opportunity.”

Two-time WNBA champion Renee Montgomery will be the first former player to become both an owner and executive of a WNBA team. Montgomery sat out the 2020 season to focus on social justice issues and recently announced her retirement from the league after 11 seasons.

“My Dream has come true,” said Renee Montgomery. “Breaking barriers for minorities and women by being the first former WNBA player to have both a stake in ownership and a leadership role with the team is an opportunity that I take very seriously. I invite you to join me as the Dream builds momentum in Atlanta!”

Founded in 2007, the Dream has qualified for the WNBA Playoffs eight times and has reached the WNBA Finals three times. The team’s former owners, Dream Too LLC, the Atlanta Dream ownership group, purchased the team in 2011.

Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler commented on the transaction saying, “Ten years ago we stepped up to keep the Dream in Atlanta, as an important asset for a vibrant and diverse city. It was also important to us to help level the playing field for women’s professional sports. We are proud of what we accomplished and wish the team well in their next chapter. We will always value the hard work and dedication, and the memories, fans and friendships that sustained our commitment to the Atlanta Dream over the last decade.”

The Dream will play the 2021 season at the Gateway Center Arena at College Park, a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue. The 2021 WNBA regular season schedule will be announced at a later date.

Atlanta Hawks to name their press room in honor of Sekou Smith

The Atlanta Hawks today announced plans to permanently honor the memory of former Atlanta Journal-Constitution Hawks beat writer Sekou Smith, who passed away on January 26 at the age of 48.

In respect to his dedication to journalism, building relationships and mentoring young journalists, the Hawks will honor the legacy of Smith with three lasting and meaningful tributes:

The Hawks will name the media workroom at State Farm Arena after Smith, redesigning the space to honor his memory. The Sekou Smith Press Room will formally open to media for the 2021-22 NBA season.

Beginning at the end of this season, the Sekou Smith Award will annually honor the player on the team’s roster who best represents themselves and the franchise with professionalism and integrity in their interactions with the media. A plaque in the media workroom will display the name of each season’s honoree, and an on-court trophy presentation will be held including the winner and members of Smith’s family.

The team will launch an annual Hawks-NBA Summer League internship in Smith’s name. Each summer, a journalism or multi-media student from a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) school will be selected to serve as the Hawks’ beat writer for NBA Summer League, and their work will appear on the team’s digital team properties, providing valuable experience and clips. In addition to covering associated travel costs, the Hawks will provide a stipend to the intern. The SWAC is comprised of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) including Jackson State University, Smith’s alma mater.

Smith served as the AJC’s Hawks beat writer from 2005-09 before joining NBA Digital as a multimedia reporter and analyst. He also spent time at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, MS and the Indianapolis Star, where he covered the Indiana Pacers as the team’s beat writer.

Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter to undergo knee surgery

Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, who has missed the last four games due to right knee discomfort caused by wear and tear, will undergo a lateral meniscus arthroscopic debridement procedure (knee surgery) on Monday at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center in Atlanta.

The surgery will be performed by Dr. Kyle Hammond, the Hawks’ team orthopaedist.

An update on Hunter’s recovery plan will be provided approximately two weeks following the surgery.

Last season as a rookie, Hunter averaged 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

This season, in roughly the same amount of playing time, is putting up 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per outing.

The Hawks are 11-12 so far this season, which is the 6th best record in the Eastern conference. They’re being led in scoring by Trae Young at 26.7 points per game, John Collins at 17.8 PPG, Hunter at 17.2 PPG, Clint Capela at 13.7 PPG, and Kevin Huerter at 12.3 PPG.

Clint Capela has played some monster games for the Hawks lately

Clint Capela was traded to the Hawks last season, but due to injury didn’t suit up for the squad until this year. And, he’s a fit. Especially in some recent games, which saw him put up some monster stat lines. Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The Hawks had to wait to work with Capela until this season, as he spent the premature close of the Hawks’ portion of the 2019-20 season nursing a heel injury. Even though he said there are differences to the pick-and-roll game he played so well with James Harden in Houston and the one with the Hawks and Trae Young, there has been a seamlessness to his move here.

“I tell you, we’re a whole lot better with him,” Young said.

With him: There have been some plain stupid stat lines lately. Like Capela’s first career triple-double Jan. 22 that reads like so few others – 13 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks (repeat, 10 blocks) against Minnesota. Just the game before vs. Detroit he went for 27 points and 26 rebounds and five blocks, making him one of only five players in the league to go for at least 25-25-5 in the past 35 years.

Without him: While Capela was missing with an injured hand Sunday, a Hawks team that ranks third in the NBA in rebounding, was outrebounded 52-27 during a loss to Milwaukee.

The Hawks are 10-9 this season, and being lead in scoring by Trae Young at 26.2 points and 8.8 assists per game, De’Andre Hunter at 17.9 ppg, John Collins at 16.7 ppg, Capela at 13.7 ppg and 14.5 rebounds per game, Cam Reddish at 12.7 ppg, and Kevin Huerter at 11.7 ppg.

Hawks holding few full practices so far in this unusual NBA season

It’s been a season of adjustments for all 30 NBA teams, including the Hawks. Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The last time the Hawks had a full-on practice, they were in Phoenix and had the opportunity to do so only because their game against the Suns on Jan. 13 was canceled because of contact tracing…

With nine new players on the roster and largely a young roster, at that, the Hawks could use more practice time to build up chemistry and simply iron out any kinks. But, because of the new schedule, they’ve probably had only four full-on, live-contact practices since their season started Dec. 23, Pierce estimated.

Of course, every team is in a similar situation to the Hawks, in that adhereing to safety standards and keeping life simpler than usual is more important than trying to squeeze in as many practices as possible.

The Hawks are 8-7 this season. In yesterday’s 116-98 win over the Timberwolves, two Hawks put up monster games: Trae Young had 43 points, four rebounds and five assists, while Clint Capela had a special kind of triple-double of 13 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks.

Atlanta Hawks statement on Hank Aaron, who has passed away

The Atlanta Hawks released the following statement on the passing of MLB and Atlanta Braves legend Hank Aaron:

“The Atlanta Hawks organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Atlanta Braves legend Henry “Hank” Aaron. His greatness transcended sports. “Hammerin’ Hank” was the epitome of class and grace, breaking barriers and records with the swing of his bat.

In an interview, Hank once said baseball was not about breaking records but simply playing to the best of one’s potential. We are thankful that Hank not only played but that he lived to the best of his potential, leaving an example for our city and the world to follow.

We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, the Braves organization and the entire sports world.”

Forward Danilo Gallinari should return to action soon for Hawks

Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari, out with a right ankle sprain since December 30, has progressed to half-court individual workouts and will now be re-introduced to contact activity.

The team is currently listing him as Doubtful for Monday’s game vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Galinari has played in just two games so far this season, averaging 9.0 points in 14.0 minutes per outing.

The Hawks are 5-6 so far this season. They’re being led in scoring by Trae Young at 22.9 points per game, John Collins at 16.4 ppg, De’Andre Hunter at 16.1 ppg, and Cam Reddish at 12.2 ppg.

Injury updates on Hawks players Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kris Dunn

Further analysis on Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (avulsion fracture, right knee on Jan. 9) has confirmed no associated injury to knee ligaments. He has begun early stage rehabilitation. A timetable for his recovery has not been determined.

Guard Kris Dunn (right ankle surgery on Dec. 29) had his walking boot removed today, and he has progressed into weight-bearing rehabilitation and modified form shooting. He will be reviewed in two weeks and an update will be provided.