Given how much Nate McMillan has meant to the Hawks turnaround, it almost seems like a foregone conclusion that he will remain the Hawks head coach at season’s end. There have already been reports that the team plans to remove the interim tag, and why wouldn’t they? McMillan took over the Hawks when they were 14-20 — good for 11th in the Eastern Conference. They went 27-11 to end the season and have been even better so far in the playoffs, defeating the Knicks and top-seeded 76ers. It’s clear there isn’t a better fit to coach this young and ultra-talented Hawks team, so why hasn’t the interim tag been removed already?
Well, Hawks’ CEO Steve Koonin had the answer on Dukes & Bell of 92.9 The Game last night. Koonin told them that part of the agreement between the organization and McMillan when he decided to take over for Lloyd Pierce is that there would be no discussion regarding what’s next until after the season.
“You and I have talked about this privately off the air. Nate asked one of the conditions of taking the job is we do this after the season concludes and I’m so pleased on June 23rd our season’s not over. It is for 26 other teams, it’s not over for us. So, everything good happens to people who deserve it and will happen in time.”
There’s a little cause for concern because, if you remember, Nate McMillan was hesitant to take the head coaching job in the first place because of his relationship with Lloyd Pierce. However, I would go as far as to guarantee that he will sign an extension at the beginning of the offseason.
This is a perfect marriage. The Hawks needed McMillan, but McMillan also needed the talent of the Hawks for the outside world to realize just how fantastic of a coach he really is. After Atlanta wins The Finals (speak it into existence, right?), expect the two sides to come to an agreement on a healthy extension.