Shortly after Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Friday that Hawks head coach Nate McMillan had “strongly considered” the possibility of resigning from his position, McMillan met with reporters for a pregame press conference ahead of the team’s matchup with the Lakers. Predictably, the first question he received focused on Charania’s report.
“I read that article briefly,” McMillan responded (Twitter video link via Brad Rowland). “I’ve never spoken to that reporter before. I think the last two weeks, he’s written a couple articles with some sources in our organization that are making some comments about me and some things that I’m saying and doing.”
Earlier in December, Charania also received a byline (along with Sam Amick) on a story about a verbal confrontation between McMillan and star Trae Young, which is presumably the other report McMillan was referring to.
“Look, at the end of the year, I’ll do as I’ll always done,” McMillan continued. “At the end of the season, I talk with my family and see if I still have that flame, that fire to continue next season. But that’s the end of the season. All of us think about retiring. But that’s at the end of the season.
“We’re going to move on past that, that story. We have a (playoff) race to prepare for. We’re trying to get our guys healthy and make another run at the playoffs. But the things that were reported — look, I’m here to coach this team and I’ve talked to (team owner) Tony (Ressler) many times. Our goal is to make the playoffs and that’s what we’re working towards.
After concluding his statement, McMillan waited a beat and jokingly added, “So we’ve squashed that, right?”
While it sounds like McMillan doesn’t intend to step down from his position anytime soon, his comments probably won’t quell speculation about his long-term future in Atlanta. Charania wrote that McMillan “appears to be near the end of his tenure with the Hawks after the season,” suggesting that either the head coach or the team (or both) may want to move on in the spring. That still sounds like a very real possibility.
Of course, winning solves a lot of problems, so if McMillan can replicate his second-half success from the last two seasons, perhaps his future will look a whole lot different a few months from now. McMillan, who took over for Lloyd Pierce midway through the 2020/21 campaign, led the team to a 27-11 record and two playoff series wins that year. In ’21/22, following a 17-25 start, Atlanta went 26-14 the rest of the way and won a pair of play-in games to secure a postseason berth.
This season, following a splashy summer trade for Dejounte Murray, the Hawks are once again off to a slow start. The club has lost three games in a row and nine of its last 13 to drop its overall record to 17-19. Atlanta holds the No. 9 seed in the East and is only ahead of the No. 11 Raptors by a single game.