This decision comes following the Hawks' collapse down the stretch in a loss to a Miami Heat team playing without star Jimmy Butler. Atlanta started the season 4-1, but a rough stretch in early January and then a 4-11 February was enough to sink Pierce.
The Hawks came into the season with high expectations after making some big moves in free agency to bolster the roster, but things haven't gone as planned for a variety of reasons, including injuries. Offseason acquisitions Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari and Rajon Rondo have all missed significant time, while Kris Dunn hasn't even played at all. Bogdanovic and De'Andre Hunter are currently sidelined due to their respective health issues, and Cam Reddish is also hurting.
Meanwhile, star Trae Young has had his share of struggles, even though his numbers are back up to around last year's levels. Young faltered badly in the last two losses, though, which helped put a nail in Pierce's coffin. The young point guard isn't an All-Star this season after starting in the All-Star Game in 2020. There were rumblings of a disconnect between Young and Pierce last season.
The Hawks hired Pierce in 2018 after a lengthy time in the NBA as an assistant coach. Atlanta went 29-53 in Pierce's first season and 20-47 in 2019-20, but the hope was the development of a young roster, the presence of Clint Capela and the offseason moves would help them vault up the standings in Year 3.
Instead, the Hawks are 11th in the Eastern Conference and searching for a spark. There's still plenty of time left to right the ship in this East, especially if Atlanta can actually get healthy. It will be up to the next coach to figure things out with this roster, but it looks like that person will not be Nate McMillan despite the Hawks hoping to hire him.