The Atlanta Hawks today announced the hiring of Nate McMillan as the franchise’s 14th full-time head coach. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“The incredible job Nate did after taking over this season made this an easy decision,” said Hawks President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Travis Schlenk. “We were able to see how gifted a tactician, motivator and leader he is first-hand and the high level of respect and trust he earned from our players made securing him as our head coach our top priority.”
“I would like to thank Tony, Jami and Travis for putting their faith in me and giving me the opportunity to serve as head coach. I am truly blessed to be able to lead this special group into the future,” McMillan said. “I believe what we accomplished this season is just the beginning of what we can achieve if we stay connected and committed to each other.”
Named Atlanta’s interim head coach on March 1, 2021, McMillan, 56, led the Hawks to a 27-11 (.711) record over the remainder of the regular season, winning his first eight contests. Including postseason games, the Hawks recorded a 37-19 mark (.661) under McMillan’s guidance.
After leading the club to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, McMillan and the Hawks topped the fourth-seeded New York Knicks in the First Round, 4-1 and took out the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the Conference Semifinals, 4-3. The Hawks reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in Atlanta history, before falling to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.
McMillan became the third coach in the last 40 years to lead his team to the Conference Finals after taking over in-season (Pat Riley twice, ’82 Lakers and ’06 Heat; Tyronn Lue, ’16 Cavaliers).
The NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for March after leading Atlanta to a 9-4 mark, McMillan became the 20th winningest coach in NBA history on Apr. 4, 2021 (673, surpassing Mike D’Antoni) when Atlanta defeated Golden State. After the 9-4 March, Atlanta went 11-6 in April and 7-1 in May. The 27-11 mark after March 1 equaled the best record in the East.
Including his time as head coach with Seattle (2000-05), Portland (2005-12), Indiana (2016-20) and the Hawks, McMillan has led his teams to a 688-599 (.535) mark in 1,287 regular season games. He also has 71 games of postseason head coaching experience.
McMillan, born Aug. 3, 1964, has a vast basketball background as a player and a coach. After playing collegiately at North Carolina State, McMillan was drafted by Seattle (30th overall) in the 1986 NBA Draft. He played his entire 12-year career with the Sonics and had his number (10) retired. He is second in franchise history in assists and steals and ranks in the top 10 in eight other categories. He was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive team twice (1994 and ’95) and led the league in steals in the 1994-95 season with 2.96 per game. In his 12 seasons with the Sonics, they reached the playoffs 11 times.
After his playing days, McMillan was a Seattle assistant coach for two years and became the interim coach in 2000. He remained the Sonics’ coach until 2005 and then became Portland’s head coach until March 2012. In 2008-09, he led the Trail Blazers to a 54-28 record, the sixth-best record in franchise history and helped the Trail Blazers reach the playoffs in three of his six seasons. McMillan also served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team where he won gold medals in the 2006 FIBA World Championships, the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics.
McMillan was also inducted into the National Junior College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 after playing at Chowan College before transferring to North Carolina State. McMillan and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Jamelle and Brittany.