The Atlanta Hawks introduced a new leader for the team on Monday as Lloyd Pierce takes on the role of head coach. Pierce is replacing Mike Budenholzer who mutually parted ways with the Hawks in the offseason after a disappointing 24-win season.
The former Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach addressed a packed room of media, family, and ownership at the Emory Sports Complex saying “[This job] is an opportunity for me to grow and develop, as I’m preaching to our players for them to grow and develop.”
Hawks GM Travis Schlenk, who spent a season in Golden State with Pierce on the staff, gave great insight into the hiring process by describing an exchange with assistant GM Jeff Peterson during Pierce’s first interview. “I just wrote on a little piece of paper and slid it over to Jeff that said, I told you we’d know.”
Coach Pierce spoke of “The Process” often in his introduction, a phrase coined by his former team, understanding that much like Philadelphia in years past, this Hawks team is in a rebuilding period.
One surprising face in attendance was Robert Covington. The current Sixers small forward happened to be in the Atlanta area visiting family and decided to stop by. “That’s my guy,” Covington said “He has some things up his sleeve for sure. I’ve been the one that talked to [Coach Pierce] the most. I spent the most time with him. He definitely is a great coach.”
Covington is not the only former player of Pierce’s who has publicly shown support for the new head coach. Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry voiced his thoughts on the Hawks official twitter page. “Lloyd is such a down to earth guy type of guy who works hard. He invests his entire self into the game,” Curry said, “seeing [what] he’s done since he left the Warriors, through Philly, to now as a head coach I think is well deserved.”
Pierce’s introduction to the city of Atlanta was quite unique. The new head coach brought his wife and mother to the city over Mother’s Day weekend, deciding to surprise the two with tickets to Anita Baker at the Fox Theater. “We met Anita Baker in the lobby of our hotel earlier that day. I told her I was bringing my mother to the concert and she went way out of her way.” Pierce said. “…if that’s my welcome to Atlanta, I’m looking forward to it.”
The turnaround to prepare for next season will be quick for Pierce as his new team will learn their fate in the upcoming June draft, tomorrow night in Chicago at the NBA Draft Lottery. Atlanta has a 13.7% chance at the number one pick, the fourth highest odds. The NBA Draft will take place June 21st at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
By Caleb Johnson