Hawks hire Snyder as coach to replace fired McMillan

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FILE - Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder looks on in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, April 23, 2022, in Salt Lake City. Snyder has been hired as the Atlanta Hawks coach. Terms of the agreement were not immediately disclosed Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

ATLANTA – Quin Snyder has been hired as coach of the Atlanta Hawks to replace the fired Nate McMillan, the team announced Sunday.

The Hawks reached an agreement with Snyder on a five-year deal only five days after firing McMillan on Tuesday. The team has scheduled a news conference for Monday to introduce Snyder.

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The announcement from the team Sunday came shortly after the Hawks’ second straight win under interim coach Joe Prunty, a buzzer-beating 129-127 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

When announcing McMillan’s firing, general manager Landry Fields stressed that Atlanta’s eighth-place standing in the Eastern Conference was not acceptable for a team that advanced to the conference finals in 2021. On Wednesday, Fields confirmed Snyder was a candidate.

Because Snyder, 56, was available, the agreement to return to Atlanta, where he was an assistant on Mike Budenholzer’s staff during the 2013-14 season, was reached quickly.

The decision to fire McMillan at the All-Star break allowed Fields to negotiate exclusively with Snyder. Had Fields waited until after the season, other teams might have had interest in Snyder.

“From our first conversation, it was clear that Quin had all the characteristics we were looking for in our next head coach,” Fields said in a statement released by the team. “He has both an incredible basketball and emotional IQ, and we share the same core values and basketball philosophies of having honest communication and collaboration with players, tremendous attention to detail and placing a great emphasis on player development.”

Snyder said he’s “thrilled to go back to Atlanta.”

“I am excited to collaborate with Landry to create a successful program that devoted Hawks fans are proud of and cheer for and am grateful to Tony, Jami and the Ressler family for this opportunity,” Snyder said in the team’s statement. “My family and I are looking forward to immersing ourselves in the community and calling Atlanta home.”

Snyder was coach of the Utah Jazz from the 2014-15 to 2021-22 seasons, accumulating a 372-264 record and leading the team to the playoffs in six of his eight seasons.

McMillan went 99-80 as Atlanta’s coach, including a 27-11 record as interim in the second half of the 2020-21 season. His success that season in leading Atlanta to the Eastern Conference finals earned him the full-time position.

McMillan was unable to follow up on the 2021 postseason success.

The Hawks finished 43-39 in the 2021-22 season and, after escaping the play-in tournament, lost to the Miami Heat 4-1 in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The pressure on McMillan to guide the Hawks closer to the top of the conference increased this season. The team’s win-now approach became more clear when Danilo Gallinari and three first-round picks were traded to the San Antonio Spurs for All-Star guard Dejounte Murray.

The trade formed a backcourt pairing of All-Star guards in Murray and Trae Young and placed more heat on McMillan. Despite the addition of another top scorer in Murray, the Hawks struggled near .500 most of the season. They lost four of six games before the All-Star break and were one game under .500 when McMillan was fired.

There was no immediate announcement about Snyder’s Atlanta staff. The new coach will have only one day before making his debut with the team in Tuesday night’s home game against Washington, so the expectation is Snyder will retain at least most of McMillan’s staff which continued to operate under Prunty.


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