After much speculation and alleged heated back-and-forth within the team, news broke last February 22nd that the Atlanta Hawks have fired their head coach: Nate McMillan. Despite all the noise, it was still somewhat of a surprise considering the playoffs are less than two months away and the team is pretty much in the hunt.
Also, Hawk fans still have some nostalgia left from McMillan stirring that magical 2021 run, where they made the Eastern Conference Finals out of nowhere, and even stole two games out of the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks.
In all seriousness, the good majority knew it was time. The front office just traded for two-way point guard Dejounte Murray in the off-season by giving up three first-round picks, and all McMillan could do was a disappointing 29-30 record and an eighth-seed spot in the East.
Quick on Quinn
Obviously, they couldn’t tank, so not even a full day before the firing, rumors had spread that they are eyeing former Utah Jazz coach Quinn Snyder. By February 25th, it was reported by Shams Charania that the team has offered their vacant head coaching position to the sought-after coach.
It makes sense for this Hawk squad’s issues, who are in need of maturing. Quinn is among the best free agent coaches today and he can come in and stamp his influence, be it on his defensive-minded approach or overall basketball IQ.
Note that he architected the Jazz’s highly regarded defense for eight seasons. He also helped develop Gordon Hayward (a solid two-way player before his injury), three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner Rudy Gobert, and high-scoring guard Donovan Mitchell. Those three combined for eight All-Star Selections between the 2016-17 and 2022-23 seasons.
Is Snyder finally the answer?
That is the big question. There’s no doubt that such a no non-sense figure is what the Hawks need as a coach, but you can also argue that the previous head coaches have that. What if it’s their franchise guy, Trae Young, that’s the problem? Let’s not forget that McMillan and the coach prior, Lloyd Pierce, got booted out just 27 months apart.
Everyone’s fully aware of Young’s tendency to clash with coaches and teammates. Charania, himself, even alluded to that in the full report, though he did point out that Snyder could very well be the man for that exact job:
“What the Hawks really want from a potential coach like [Quinn] Snyder is for him to bring a culture there, but also bring accountability. That starts from Trae Young, all the way down to the last player on the roster. That’s something that this organization is yearning for, having a coach that’s a culture starter.”
Snyder’s potential arrival in the ATL will be intriguing nonetheless. Having him mold Young into a better player and leader should be awesome. The 24-year-old two-time All-Star has 26.9 points and 10.2 assists per game on the season, and it’s a down year.
For now, it’s simply good to imagine Snyder get injected in a core that has a backcourt of Young and Murray (elite on offense and defense, respectively), a tenacious forward in John Collins, a defensive double-double machine in Clint Capela, a prototype ‘3 and D’ in DeAndre Hunter, and resident sharshooters in Bogdan Bogdanovic and Saddiq Bey. They are dangerous group on paper, and all they need is that one voice that will bring it to fruition.
Don’t forget how good they suddenly performed right after McMillan’s firing. They smoked the number one defensive team in the league Cleveland Cavaliers, 136-119, and led by as much as 32.
Maybe it’s a preview of what’s to come.