Nate McMillan is headed to Atlanta.
After being fired by Indiana weeks after he got a contract extension, McMillan threw his hat in the ring for open head coaching jobs and reportedly was courted by Houston and others to be an assistant coach. In the end, McMillan settled on Atlanta and Lloyd Pierce’s staff, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.
While Atlanta has some highly-respected assistant coaches on staff — Melvin Hunt and Chris Jent, for example — nobody has head coaching experience. McMillan was a head coach in Seattle and Portland before Indiana. McMillan also has been part of USA Basketball coaching staffs.
There have been reports of a disconnect between Pierce and star Trae Young. If that is true, then having another experienced head coach on staff who could step in makes a coaching transition easier, should it come to that.
There is some buzz around the league about pressure in Atlanta — coming from the top — for the team to make a leap forward into the playoffs this season. While succeeding with that will be more about the talent added to the roster (and the growth of young players such as Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter), having McMillan on the bench should help. He’s been down this road before.