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The Atlanta Hawks Have Fired Coach Lloyd Pierce

The Atlanta Hawks were supposed to be the team in the East taking the leap from the lottery into the playoffs this season after a big offseason of spending on some high priced veteran free agents. However, the injury ravaged Hawks have stumbled to a 14-20 start, that most recently saw them fall apart late against the Jimmy Butler-less Heat in Miami.

Lloyd Pierce has been firmly on the hotseat since this offseason when ex-Pacers coach Nate McMillan was brought in as his lead assistant and he didn’t shy away from playoff expectations. While the Hawks have yet to have their full roster healthy for a game this season, that hasn’t changed the fact that the results have been disappointing, particularly in close games. Atlanta is 6-13 in games that qualify as “clutch” this season (ahead or behind by five or fewer inside five minutes to play) and their fourth quarter defensive rating and net rating are the worst in the league.

Add in a fan base that has turned completely on Pierce, and you have a recipe for a midseason firing, which came on Monday afternoon, with a statement from GM Travis Schlenk.

“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 went 63-120 in Atlanta as he was brought in to bring the young Hawks through a rebuild, and he won’t get a chance to see that through with a healthy, retooled roster. One would expect McMillan to be the interim head coach, but the Hawks did not announce that officially in the release, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports McMillan is waiting to speak with Pierce before accepting the position, which he eventually did.

Pierce was well aware of his likely fate, speaking recently about the season and noting he won’t have any hard feelings towards Schlenk whenever he’s fired. The on court product never quite lived up to expectations, but the fault of that lies on many, with Pierce certainly shouldering some of that responsibility. Off the court, Pierce was a tremendous advocate for the Atlanta community, working with the Georgia Innocence Project among other organizations to give back and be a powerful voice for those who often aren’t afforded one.

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