The Sixers have already lost their first piece in free agency.
Assistant coach Lloyd Pierce has agreed to a deal to become the Atlanta Hawks’ new head coach. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the contract is for three years guaranteed with a fourth-year option.
“This is a day I’ve been working towards for a long time and it’s an honor to be the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks,” Pierce said in a statement Friday. “I have great respect for Travis (Schlenk) and strong belief in his plan to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta. After spending time with ownership, it’s clear they have a deep investment in and commitment to making this a model organization. This opportunity is a perfect fit for me, and I’m eager to get started.”
This is Pierce’s first head coaching job after serving as an assistant in the NBA for 11 years. He beat out a group of candidates that reportedly included Portland assistant Nate Tibbetts, Golden State assistant Jarron Collins and Charlotte assistant Stephen Silas.
When it was first reported last week that Pierce had interviewed for the position, Sixers head coach Brett Brown threw all of his support behind his staff member.
“If a team came in and said we want to rebuild, I can't think of a more appropriate program that has gone from where we were to where we are that has a true story to tell,” Brown said. “You look at him, he's a young coach. He's in great shape. He's tremendously, sort of, connected to the league. He's defensively oriented. It's a no-brainer in my eyes.”
After winning a franchise-record 60 games just three seasons ago, the Hawks have now tumbled down the standings. Their stripped-down roster finished with a 24-58 record this past season, worst in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta is entering a crucial offseason as the team holds three first-round picks in the 2018 draft. That would seem to be the right opportunity to add Pierce, who has made his name around the league in player development.
“As we set out to find a new head coach for our team, it was critically important to find a dynamic teacher who could connect with and develop our young core while instilling the culture and high standards we feel are necessary in a successful program,” Schlenk said. “Lloyd Pierce checks every box, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him leading the Atlanta Hawks into the future.”