Rome News-Tribune

Mcmillan agreed to coach with hesitance

- By Charles Odum

Nate Mcmillan reluctantl­y agreed to serve as the Atlanta Hawks’ interim coach and only accepted the position after conferring with Lloyd Pierce following Pierce’s firing on Monday.

Even then, Mcmillan didn’t rest easy. He immediatel­y felt the burden of his increased responsibi­lity.

“The sleepless nights have already started,” Mcmillan said Tuesday. “I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night.”

Mcmillan said before his debut as interim coach in Tuesday night’s game at Miami that he initially wasn’t interested when Hawks president Travis Schlenk extended the offer to serve as interim coach.

Mcmillan, who was fired last year following four seasons as the Indiana Pacers coach, said he wasn’t looking for another opportunit­y to lead a team when he agreed to serve on Pierce’s staff.

Even as others saw Mcmillan as the logical successor for Pierce, he had other ideas. He didn’t expect Pierce to be fired and wasn’t ready to take over the Hawks.

“The thought process at first was that wasn’t something I really was going to do, because it was really a surprise to me,” Mcmillan said. “When I spoke with Travis about that I told him that wasn’t what I came here for.”

Pierce helped to convince Mcmillan to accept the interim job.

“We had a conversati­on about the team and the move ... and he just felt he didn’t think this would happen but he felt I could step in and do a good job with the team,” Mcmillan said. “He basically felt I should take this opportunit­y.”

So about three hours after announcing Pierce had been fired, the Hawks named Mcmillan as interim coach later Monday.

Mcmillan, 56, played 12 years in the NBA with Seattle and has logged 16 seasons, posting a 661-588 record, as a head coach with Seattle, Portland and Indiana. Even with so much experience, he was caught off-guard by the unexpected opportunit­y to revive the Hawks’ disappoint­ing season.

He wasn’t ready to talk about the possibilit­y of being more than an interim coach in Atlanta.

“I’m going to take this — and you guys are going to hear me say this as much as you ask — one game at a time,” he said. “I’m focused on tonight’s game, not tomorrow’s game. So far as the future and what I’m looking for, I really haven’t thought about that. There was no conversati­on about that with Travis and I.”

The Hawks were 14-20 and 11th in the Eastern Conference entering Tuesday night’s game. Schlenk said he believes Mcmillan is the right choice to revive the season.

“I think Nate’s resume speaks for itself,” Schlenk said Monday. “I have a ton of confidence in Nate moving forward.”

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Nate Mcmillan

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