Who will replace Nate McMillan as Hawks head coach? Quin Snyder, Kenny Atkinson reportedly leading candidates

Nate McMillan’s time in Atlanta is up.

The Hawks made the decision Tuesday to part ways with McMillan, ending his nearly two-year tenure as the team’s head coach.

“I want to thank Nate for his leadership and professionalism during his time with the Hawks,” GM Landry Fields said in a statement. Decisions like this, especially mid-season, are always extremely difficult, but we believe it’s in our team’s best interest to move forward with a different voice.”

MORE: Why did the Hawks fire Nate McMillan?

According to ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski, assistant coach Joe Prunty is expected to take over as interim head coach. However, the search for a new long-term leader is already underway.

Who will replace Nate McMillan as Hawks head coach?

Wojnarowski reports that there are three key traits the Hawks are looking for in McMillan’s successor: player development, accountability and team improvement on both sides of the ball.

According to the league’s official website, Atlanta currently ranks 16th in offensive standings and 21st in defensive standings in the NBA.

While the team is planning “A far-reaching quest‘, three names have emerged as early favorites for the vacant job: Quin Snyder, Charles Lee and Kenny Atkinson.

MORE: Who is Joe Prunty? What you should know about the Hawks’ interim coach replacing fired Nate McMillan

Quin Snyder

Snyder served as Jazz’s head coach for eight years from 2014-22. He helped transform Utah from a perennial underachiever into one of the best teams in the Western Conference, culminating in a 52-20 league record in the 2020-21 season.

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He’s primarily known as an offensive player, and he certainly has a record of turning players into stars. Under his leadership, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert both became All-Stars for the first time, while Jordan Clarkson won sixth man of the year in 2021. The prospect of Snyder and Trae Young working together will excite Hawks fans.

However, he has been eliminated from the NBA since stepping down as Jazz head coach in June 2022. If there’s one slap in the face of Snyder, it’s that Utah has never seen much playoff success under his stewardship. In fact, they never made it past the Western Conference semifinals.

With that he certainly showed that he knows how to turn a young team into a competitor.

Karl Lee

The Bucks assistant has been a finalist for several head coaching jobs in recent years, and it looks like he’s being considered for a vacant position again.

Hawks fans will already be somewhat familiar with Lee, having served as an assistant coach to Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta for four years between 2014 and 2018. He followed Budenholzer to Milwaukee and has been there ever since.

Known as an excellent “player coach,” he helped develop two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo along with fellow Bucks stars Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. At just 38, Lee is one of the most exciting young coaches in the league and may finally be ready to make the step up to becoming a regular in Atlanta.

Kenny Atkinson

The third and final name on Wojnarowski’s report is Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, who has experience as an NBA head coach, having spent more than three years heading the Nets between 2016 and 2020.

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He led Brooklyn in his freshman season from a league-worst record (20-62) to a playoff berth and a 6th-place finish in the Eastern Conference just two years later. He eventually resigned in March 2020, handing the reins to the team’s current head coach, Jacque Vaughn.

Since leaving Brooklyn, he has been an assistant coach with the Clippers under Ty Lue and most recently as an assistant coach with the Warriors under Steve Kerr, where he remains today.

He was reportedly offered the head coaching position for the Hornets that offseason, but turned it down in favor of staying in the Bay Area. Maybe he’s waiting for the right opportunity to get back into the head coaching world. We’ll see if Atlanta could fill that bill.

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