The Atlanta Hawks' decision to fire head coach Lloyd Pierce on Monday was criticized by San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who praised Pierce as the type of coach you could create a winning culture with. The five-time champion also seemed to throw some shade at Atlanta as an organization, implying that the team did not have the patience to let Pierce succeed.
"He's the kind of guy you can build a culture around," Popovich said of Pierce. "But there's got to be leadership enough that understands it takes time and continuity is important and that is not always available in our league as far as management and ownership are concerned."
Pierce was hired by the Hawks before the 2018-19 season and failed to find much success as Atlanta's coach, holding a .344 winning percentage over the last two-and-a-half seasons. Many expected the Hawks to make a playoff push this year, but the team is currently 14-20 and are the 11th seed in the weak Eastern Conference. The disappointing start to the season was enough for ownership to fire Pierce, with assistant Nate McMillan taking his place as the team's interim head coach.
Popovich chose Pierce as an assistant for the USA Basketball team in 2019, joining Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Villanova head coach Jay Wright on the staff.