Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA assistant coach Nate McMillan during practice at the UNLV Mendenhall Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
According to a report made public by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Atlanta Hawks interviewed former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan for their not-yet-vacant head coaching job on Wednesday. Larry Drew, the “current” Hawks coach, remains under contract until June 30th and has not been formally fired, but Danny Ferry is clearly on the lookout for a potential replacement.
Ferry is believed to be fully moving on from Larry Drew, but sources are reporting that Drew has a slim chance of returning based on the fact that Ferry could fail to attract a significant upgrade in the job. There have been widespread reports that Drew and his staff are already looking elsewhere for employment, and it seems as if there is good reason for that search.
Nate McMillan is a highly-respected coach in the NBA (with a career winning percentage of .514 despite some difficult roster situations), having taken both Portland and Seattle (now Oklahoma City) to the playoffs during his tenure. He was unceremoniously let go in Portland due to some curious front-office maneuvering by owner Paul Allen (a whole different story), but he has remained a “hot” name in coaching circles thanks in part to his role as an assistant coach to Mike Krzyzewski with Team USA.
The level of interest from Ferry in actually hiring McMillan is unclear, but with his publicized overtures toward Stan Van Gundy combined with this “confirmed” interview, it is clear that Ferry has his sights set high in this coaching search. McMillan would be a tremendous hire in my view, and while I would rather have the on-court brilliance of Van Gundy, I firmly believe that either would be an upgrade over Larry Drew and company.
Stay tuned as the coaching search heats up in the coming days.