The Atlanta Hawks have got their man and he made his first appearance as the team’s head coach this morning at the team’s practice facility in Brookhaven.
Flanked by general manager Travis Schlenk and Bob Rathbun, Lloyd Pierce said all the right things to an assembly of family, including his pregnant wife, friends, Hawks players and media.
“The opportunity was one I couldn’t pass up,” said Pierce of the chance to become the head coach of a team that won 24 games this past season. “I’d like to think I’m the right person for this job.”
Schlenk belives so as well. “We wanted somebody with a strong track record who could coach our young players. Every stop [he’s] made he’s been a big part of player development.”
Pierce and Schlenk briefly worked together in Golden State while Pierce was an assistant coach during the 2010-2011 season and Schlenk was the Warriors vice president of basketball operations.
Pierce added, “This is a profession where if you don’t have relationships with players you don’t have a chance. It’s important in our profession to be authentic.”
One of those stops for Pierce, the most recent in fact, was in Philadelphia where for the past five years under current head coach Brett Brown he has helped develop the defensive presence of what is now the crown jewel of the NBA’s ‘best young teams/teams on the rise’ movement. Pierce will fairly or unfairly be expected to do the same with the Hawks.
“We’re going to create habits through competiton and repetition,” said Pierce about his defensive philosophy, something he referred to as his “defensive DNA.” Hawks players Kent Bazemore, De’Andre Bembry, Mike Muscala and Isaiah Taylor were in attendance and by the looks of it were paying close attention to Pierce’s theories onj player development. “I want to make them better and get them to help make us better,” said Pierce, 42, about the Hawks.
Upon being introduced to the media and crowd in attendance, that also included Pierce’s pregnant wife (the couple is due in the fall), Pierce spoke candidly about the Hawks head coaching position and the peiople he worked with in the past that helped get him to this point. Pierce mentioned former Cleveland Cavaliers and current Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Brown, Schlenk, former Warriors head coach Keith Smart and former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins as mentors.
That compliment can be highlighted the most by the five seasons Pierce most recently spent in Philadelphia under current head coach Brett Brown, another coaching mentor. The 76ers now famous “Trust the Process” motto is something Hawks fans hope will be a part of the Lloyd Pierce era in Atlanta. The Hawks have a solid young nucleus of point guard Dennis Schroder, and forwards John Collins and Taurean Prince.
On his time under Brown as an assistant Pierce said, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for coach Brown. He empowered me.”
Pierce worked as an assistant in the NBA for the past 11 years including stints with Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2007-2010, a season in Golden State for the 2010-2011 season, in Memphis for two seasons and most recently with the Philadelphia 76ers from 2013 till this past playoff run to the second round where the 76ers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in four games.
Pierce’s contract with the Hawks is for three years with a team option for a fourth. He plans to get out the gate running, “I’ve been on the job for what, three days,” he said after being asked about who he planned to hire to fill out his coaching staff.
The new coach has plans on being in Chicago for pre-draft player workouts and in Utah for the first leg of NBA Summer League. “It’s an opportunity to get out on the court with the guys,” said Pierce of coaching during the summer. “We’ll try to get all of our players there.”