Editor's Note: After this Associated Press article
was written yesterday, Shams Charania of the Athletic
reported Thursday morning that the Atlanta Hawks have begun
formal discussions with former Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder in
"an attempt to swiftly hire" him for the same position.
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields said Wednesday former Utah coach Quin Snyder is among those being considered to replace Nate McMillan.
The Hawks (29-30) fired McMillan on Tuesday. Fields stressed that Atlanta’s eighth-place standing in the Eastern Conference is not acceptable for a team that advanced to the conference finals in 2021.
Snyder, 56, was 372-264 as Utah’s coach from 2014-22. He guided the Jazz to six consecutive playoff appearances before stepping down after last season.
Fields said Snyder’s availability “is a factor in the sense that I feel comfortable mentioning his name, but there are other candidates I don’t want to mention because they are a part of other teams.”
Snyder was a Hawks assistant in 2013-14.
Other possible candidates include Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson and Milwaukee assistant Charles Lee, both former Atlanta assistants.
Fields said he has started talking with potential candidates and could make a hire this season. Assistant coach Joe Prunty began serving as interim coach at practice Wednesday but may not be involved in the interview process for the full-time position.
“To do this now, sort of last minute, there’s enough on Joe’s plate,” Fields said, adding that his message to Prunty is “just focus on the task at hand and we’ll cover everything else later.”
McMillan, 58, went 99-80 as Atlanta’s coach, including a 27-11 record as interim in the second half of the 2020-21 season. His success that season in leading Atlanta to the Eastern Conference finals earned him the full-time position.
The Hawks are hoping for a similar late-season revival under Prunty, but players say consistency and accountability must improve.
“It ain’t on Nate McMillan,” guard Dejounte Murray said after practice. “We’ve all got to look in the mirror.”
Added center Clint Capela: “It’s on all of us. ... Consistency, we just have to be better.”
McMillan couldn’t follow up on the 2021 success. The Hawks lost to Miami in the first round of the playoffs last season after surviving the play-in tournament.
Hawks forward John Collins said McMillan “was a great coach” but added “we need a different type of guidance” from the next coach.
When asked if accountability from players was lacking under McMillan, Collins said, “Yeah, I definitely feel we can do a better job with that.”
Prunty, who has been an NBA assistant coach since 1996, has previous experience as an interim coach. He posted a 21-16 record with Milwaukee after Jason Kidd was fired during the 2017-18 season.
“It definitely helps, for sure, but every situation is different,” Prunty said. “... The reality is it’s very difficult to make wholesale changes. There may be things that could be tweaked here and there.”
Collins described Prunty as “a cool, calm coach, real relaxed.”
“I feel we’re all comfortable with Joe,” Collins said. “Hopefully, it can be a smooth transition.”
Atlanta, which plays at home against Cleveland on Friday night, is struggling to remain in the top 10 in the conference for a return spot in the play-in field. The Hawks lost four of six games before the All-Star break and are only one game ahead of 10th-place Toronto in the East.
Fields said he considered a coaching change for one month and was influenced by back-to-back losses to Charlotte and the New York Knicks before the break.
“I do believe there was slippage and I felt that was a need we needed to address,” Fields said.
Fields said he did not consult point guard Trae Young or other players before making the move. Fields said speculation that McMillan’s efforts were affected by conflicts with Young were unfair to the player and were not a factor in his decision to make a coaching change.
Young was not made available for interviews on Wednesday.
Overall in 19 seasons, McMillan has a 760-668 record with the Seattle SuperSonics, Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers and Hawks.