That was just one of several mistakes McMillan made this season after taking over for the Hawks midway through last season. McMillan’s declaration in mid-March that Delon Wright was out of the rotation surprised sources. They pointed to how the Hawks were in need of better perimeter defenders and Wright was one of the few who were capable of consistently staying in front of guys, but McMillan instead opted for Williams, who wasn’t the spark plug he was last season. Because of injuries to Williams and Collins shortly after saying Wright was out of the rotation, he was once again back in the lineup. But it was another decision that caught many by surprise. Wright ended up being one of the best Hawks in the Miami series.
Lloyd Pierce was fired last season because he lost the locker room, and mainly Young. One source was asked after Tuesday’s Game 5 loss if McMillan had support in the locker room this season and if he felt like the players believed in their coach; he just laughed. As of a few days ago, McMillan’s job security was not in question. The manner in which the Hawks lost could change opinions, but that remains unclear right now. This series was another reminder, though, of McMillan’s lack of playoff success. In his 18 seasons, he’s only advanced out of the first round twice: last season and in 2005 with the Seattle SuperSonics.
Two weeks into the season, Young told Atlanta reporters how the regular season is “a lot more boring than the playoffs.” It was a stunning quote that reverberated not only inside the organization but outside of it too. Sources around the league mentioned how lackadaisical the Hawks looked to begin the season, and some questioned the maturity of the team. Young later clarified his comments and said what he meant was the team needed to play every game with playoff intensity, but the damage was done by then.
All of the analytics pointed to Reddish’s play actively hurting the Hawks, but he remained in the rotation. There was no mandate from the front office to play Reddish to increase his trade value. McMillan continued playing him, sources say, because he felt like if he didn’t, the team’s chemistry would’ve been negatively impacted. It was a bad read from McMillan. The Hawks were 15-19 when Reddish played this season and 28-20 without him.
McMillan’s end-of-game coaching was another sore spot inside the organization. Several sources said there was an over-reliance on Young running the offense himself in late-game situations instead of McMillan drawing up plays. McMillan does have a tendency to let his players figure it out on the court — whether that’s with not calling timeouts to stop runs or with the Hawks playing through the flow of the offense and what he sometimes calls “random play.” The Hawks finished the regular season with a minus-8.8 net rating in clutch time, what the NBA considers games within five points and under five minutes.
When speaking about potential playoff matchups for the Hawks a few weeks ago, one source inside the organization mentioned how the Heat were a bad matchup for Atlanta. When asked why, he said he thought the gap between Erik Spoelstra and McMillan was too wide. Spoelstra is known as one of the best in-game tacticians in the NBA, and that showed itself with how the Heat neutralized Young and how the Hawks couldn’t figure anything out to get him going.
As one source said after Game 5, “McMillan’s unimaginative, and when things aren’t going to plan, it’s hard to make an adjustment.”
Chris Kirschner: Danilo Gallinari said he feels like the Hawks don’t play every game with playoff intensity. Why? Gallo: “I don’t know. If I had the answer, we would have fixed it. I think mentally we need to be tougher. I think the ups and downs are more mental than anything else.”
John Collins: I feel like I'm supposed to be one of the cornerstones and building blocks of the organization. You guys have bought into me and paid me and showed me that you guys want me here and care about me. I feel frustrated that I can't produce more for you or have not been allowed to do so. It's nothing of me being frustrated or asking for a trade.
Danilo Gallinari on team's offensive struggles down the stretch: "The explanation for this statistic that sees us in last place in the NBA is because there are no clear hierarchies and clear playing patterns. Last year they were much more defined: at the beginning we were the worst team in the fourth periods, but after the change of coach we became the best. It's something we can still do, but we have to improve."
So, obviously, Shams reported there’s growing frustration from you, and he linked you to possibly being included in a deal for Ben Simmons. What would you like to say about the report and your frustration? John Collins: When you read the article and go back and look at it — sometimes, the headline of the article is a lot more intriguing than what’s actually written — what I didn’t like is he took a quote from my postgame press conference and sort of created a dialogue from it talking about my usage is down. In terms of voicing it and saying something, of course, I am frustrated. We’re not doing well. You could say he’s right, but I haven’t outwardly spoken to anyone or voiced my frustration directly to my teammates. That, I feel like, gets lost a bit in the dialogue but, of course, I’m as frustrated as anyone is on this team as we’re losing and not doing as well as we should.
John Collins: I don’t love that. I understand my value and my role to the team. I feel like I’ve embraced it and not complained. I’ve trudged on and done what I feel like is needed to be a professional on this team, but, again, it’s the coach’s decision and the organization’s decision. I don’t love it, but I’m trying to do my best to try to play through it. I just want to be utilized to the best of my ability to maximize production. I understand that we have a lot of guys on this team who can score. I understand that there has to be some sacrifice for us to reach our goals. I’m trying to be the best pro I can.
John Collins: My usage is lower than my rookie year. (Note: There was a time during the season when this was accurate; however, it’s the second lowest of his career.) There are things that I can’t control and I’m not trying to say anything about. I’m not complaining about this, but there are small things that are different now for myself. I’m just trying to figure out how to make my point and my emphasis felt on the court. I just don’t like to be out there running around sometimes. Sometimes, you just want to understand where you can make an impact instead of having to create it for myself. I feel like that’s where I’m at a lot of times. I’m just having to create out of nothing, and it’s hard as hell. That’s where it comes from. It’s wanting to have a safety blanket to throw over my back when I might be in trouble sometimes.
If I’m understanding correctly, you’re wanting a more-defined offensive role for yourself? John Collins: Yes, exactly. I’m not sitting here complaining and saying I need more touches of the ball, or I need to score more points or need more shots. I’ve never complained about that. All I’ve said, specifically, if there’s a way that I feel like is beneficial for everybody — and not just myself — is for us to be used in the correct way. That’s the angle I’m taking. If I’m saying it, it’s for us. I just want to be put in the best position to succeed, and that’s it. I feel like I’ve sacrificed and have continued to sacrifice as much as I can for the team. I just want to make sure that’s clear.
Sarah K. Spencer: Bogdan Bogdanovic: "We are playing bad right now. We cannot say we are a good team right now, because we are not. Simple as that." Says the Hawks have to look in the mirror.
Sarah K. Spencer: I asked Trae Young about his spirits, with where the Hawks are: "We’re finally getting some guys back, but we’ve got to win. For me… It’s frustrating. I hate losing. That’s pretty much it. I’m not the happiest guy in the world right now, but we’ve got to find a way to win."
“It’s frustrating. It’s not fun,” Young said of the Hawks’ defense. “Being one of the best offensive teams in the league is a really good thing, but when you’re letting teams score as much as you, it’s not good for your team. We got to figure it out. We have time to figure it out. We have to do it. We have to keep the offense the way it’s been going. We have to get more stops.” Kevin Huerter, who made his return after sitting the past six games while in health and safety protocols, echoed Young’s comments. “It’s just one of those things that we talk about where we know how capable and how good we can be,” Huerter said.
There have been too many instances this season where the starters come back into games having to play catch-up, and the Hawks have to sometimes force the issue in spots when they shouldn’t have to, but as Prunty said, he’s not going to play Young 24 minutes in the second half. He’s got to sit at some point, especially in a regular-season game in early January. If it were up to Young though, he would be out there the entire game. “S—, I was trying to be out there for my team,” Young said of watching the fourth-quarter lead disappear. “I obviously want to play all 48 minutes. I don’t know if my body would let me do that. I just want to be out there as much as I can. I know it’s a long season. This isn’t an individual sport. We all have to find a way to give a little bit more and pull out games in the end. We have to find a way for all of us, top to bottom, to give a little more.”
Dunn, Bogdanovic, Rondo and Gallinari are collectively owed roughly $50 million this year, but the Hawks aren’t getting enough consistent production from them on the court yet. “I think it’s safe to say a lot of our guys, whether free agents or not, haven’t performed as well as they wanted to,” Schlenk said. “We’re not really in the situation that we wanted to be in, but it’s not a dire situation either. We can still accomplish all our goals we set out to start the season which was to have a winning season, so I don’t think anybody’s really satisfied with where we are as a team or how they’ve performed individually, if you went through the whole team.”
In the second half, we’ll find out if the Hawks truly have playoff potential. “We don’t dislike where we are,” Travis Schlenk said. “I wouldn’t say we’re happy with the way the first half went out, but all things considered, we’re still in a good spot. I don’t know what the standings are right now, but we’re a few games out right in the mix. It’s been a difficult year for all teams, not just us — whether they’ve been hit by COVID or injuries. The pace of games — I think we have a game every other day.”
On a young team, those sort of gripes are routine across the league. But Young insists the episode was overblown. “Of course if there’s anything out there publicly, I always go directly to [that person],” Young relayed to Yahoo Sports. “As for the John [Collins] incident, me and him talked about it as soon as it got out the next day and we were both confused. It just got out and it was over a regular film session. So there’s no beef or anything in there to begin with. There hasn’t been any locker room issues on my side. Anything that people were saying about locker room issues, there hasn’t been one. It’s all about our team and how we’ve been trying to get better in film sessions.”
Sarah K. Spencer: Trae Young: "For anybody that's been an NBA film session, people talk. Coaches talk, players talk and we see what we all say, we see what we can get better at. When you lose there's more things that you feel you can get better at then when you win, obviously."
Kevin Chouinard: Trae Young: "When you lose, there are more things that you feel you can better at than when you win."
John Collins, the fourth-year big man who just weeks before bet on himself in a big way during his failed extension talks with the Hawks, shared his unfiltered and unhappy views about the way franchise centerpiece Trae Young was running the offense. According to three sources who were either in the session or had knowledge of what was said, Collins raised several issues about the way these Hawks were functioning with Young at the helm.
It’s that belief that compelled him to turn down the Hawks’ extension offer last month, when sources say he left a deal worth more than $90 million on the table with the hopes that he would prove worthy of much more this offseason. Others see Collins’ views differently, claiming his focus in the film session was on the need for Young to maximize the deep roster of talent that now surrounds him.
There was no back-and-forth between the two, but the pointed criticism caught the attention of the room. And Young, sources say, made it clear to others later that he strongly disagreed with Collins’ assessment. “Trae is my brother regardless,” Collins, who chose not to elaborate further, told The Athletic via text message when he was asked about the situation.
Even after the film session came to an end, the dialogue about how these Hawks should operate continued. Only this time, it was Hawks big man Clint Capela who decided to weigh in during a private discussion with Young. Capela, the 26-year-old who was acquired from Houston at last season’s trade deadline, had seen a similar act unfold before during the Dwight Howard-James Harden era with the Houston Rockets. Sources say Capela’s message focused on that cautionary tale, how Howard’s demands for the ball along with Harden’s reluctance to give it up more freely widened the divide between them and led to collective failure.
After suffering an embarrassing 23-point loss to the lowly New York Knicks on Tuesday night and falling to dead last in the conference standings, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce is not on the hot seat, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The young Hawks gave up 143 points to a Knicks team with the worst shooting percentage in the league at 37.7, and Atlanta is now 6-22. Star point guard Trae Young called it the lowest point of the season.
The Hawks’ second-best player, forward John Collins, who is set to return next week from a 25-game suspension for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program, is one of the primary factors in the organization remaining patient with Pierce.
Frustration in the locker room has been building for some time as teammates have complained to each other about selfishness, not putting in the necessary work to turn things around and players not being held accountable, sources told Yahoo Sports. A true vocal leader who commands the respect of his peers is missing from the roster, sources said.
Pierce is in his second season as head coach and his arrival came with plenty of fanfare for his previous roles in player development and relationship building with other franchises. But there is work that needs to be done to strengthen the connection with a few significant players, sources said.
January 26, 2023 | 8:02 pm EST Update
According to a Western Conference source, the Heat remains interested in acquiring Phoenix Suns and former Heat forward Jae Crowder, but the Suns have resisted the Heat’s trade concepts and other interested teams have a clearer pathway to a deal. Talks with Miami simply haven’t gained traction, according to the source. Duncan Robinson’s name was raised in trade discussions with Phoenix, but the Suns had no interest in taking on the final 3 1/2 seasons of his five-year, $90 million contract, the source said. Miami has not shown any inclination to offer Caleb Martin in a deal for Crowder.
Among other power rotation players who have been linked to the Heat in trade discussions: Atlanta’s John Collins, Utah’s Jared Vanderbilt and the Pelicans’ Willie Hernangomez. Meanwhile, even though the Heat is not aggressively trying to trade point guard Kyle Lowry, his name has been mentioned in trade speculation and a deal involving Lowry cannot be completely ruled out.
Gerald Bourguet: “I caught it from my baby boy. Sorry to throw you under the bus, junior.” Deandre Ayton said when he was trying to get back on the court and find his breath, he felt like he was in Denver. Was also dealing with headaches, but was thankful it wasn’t COVID or the flu:
A rare Air Jordan 1 that was originally released as an NYC exclusive in 2016 is reportedly receiving a formal release later this year. According to @zsneakerheadz and Sneaker Files, the black-and-red “Bred” Air Jordan 1 Satin is set to launch as a women’s exclusive. In-hand images of the 2023 pair have yet to surface, but it’s expected to feature an all-satin upper like the previous version.