While Pierce and Young seemed to mend their relationship at the start of the season, but “old tensions resurfaced,” The Athletic reported. Other players with the Hawks also “grew frustrated with Pierce’s style.”
Later, The Athletic reiterated that there was friction between Young and Pierce at the time of Pierce’s firing.
“As this season progressed, the goodwill that Pierce and Young had re-established would dissipate, and the friction between them would return,” The Athletic reported. “It became apparent that Young and Pierce were not going to be a match that was sustainable for long-term success.”
The Hawks (14-20) currently hold the 11th-best record in the Eastern Conference. Their roster is dotted with young talent — from Young to forward John Collins to wings De’Andre Hunter (when healthy) and Cam Reddish, among others.
“We have high expectations for our team on the court and we believe by making this change now that we can have a strong second half of the season,” Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said in a statement.
Several opposing coaches questioned the Hawks’ decision to fire Pierce. That list included the Brooklyn Nets’ Steve Nash, the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich and the Dallas Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle.
“He’s a heck of a young coach and an incredible human being,” Nash told reporters. “There would be a lot of organizations that would be very fortunate to have him. Disappointed for Lloyd. With his talent, character, and work ethic, he’s going to be fine.”
Pierce, 44, compiled a 63-120 record in a little more than two seasons with the Hawks. He has also been an assistant with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers.