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Hawks coach Nate McMillan denies report he’s considered retiring mid-season

Oklahoma City Thunder v Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 05: Trae Young #11 walks past head coach Nate McMillan of the Atlanta Hawks to re-enter the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half at State Farm Arena on December 05, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Things have not gone smoothly for the Atlanta Hawks. They entered the season thinking they would be close to the top of the East, but after a loss Friday night to the Lakers they fell to 17-19 on the season and currently look like a play-in team at best. Coach Nate McMillan and star Trae Young have had tension boil over at points.

That led to a report Friday that McMillan has considered resigning mid-season, from Shams Charania of The Athletic.

McMillan’s job status came into question across the NBA after his exchange with Hawks All-NBA star Trae Young at a gameday shootaround. His job status has been considered safe, and the Hawks have wanted to finish out the season with McMillan on the sideline, sources said. But McMillan, 58, appears to be near the end of his tenure with the Hawks after the season — unless there’s a resignation before then.

McMillan himself denied the report at his pregame media availability.

“We’re trying to get our guys healthy and make another run at the playoffs, but the things that were reported, look, I’m here to coach this year, and I’ve talked to [owner] Tony Ressler many times, and our goal is to make the playoffs. And that’s what I’m working towards...

“Look, at the end of the year, I’ll do as I’ve always done. I’ll talk with my family and see if that flame, that fire, to continue next season, but that’s the end of the season. All of us think about retiring, but that’s at the end of the season. We’re going to move past that, that story.”

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin was more forceful in shooting down the rumor on an Atlanta radio station.

McMillan may not be going anywhere in the short term, but that doesn’t mean things are good in the ATL.

Buzz about the poor relationship between McMillan and Young has been all over the league this season, long before any of these reports. Historically, things have not ended well for NBA coaches who have a poor relationship with their stars. There already has been a shakeup within the front office, with Travis Schlenk stepping down as the head of basketball operations. With Young in the first year of his five-year max extension, he’s not likely going anywhere.

However, the Hawks have some hard questions to answer. McMillan is the second coach Young has not gotten along with, Lloyd Pierce had the same issue, and at some point the question becomes, “is it the coach?” Also, the Hawks made a big move this offseason to bring in Dejounte Murray to form a backcourt with Young, but that hasn’t gelled on the court, and there are reports of chemistry issues in the locker room as well. Young is not exactly the most popular teammate in the league.

Atlanta has a lot of work to get back to the conference finals they were in a couple of years ago, a run that now looks like a fluke. Figuring out the coaching situation — and the coach/Young relationship — may wait until the offseason, but everything needs to start with that foundation.