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Lloyd Pierce set to become Atlanta Hawks head coach

It appears Travis Schlenk has settled on his first head coaching hire.

NBA: Summer League-Philadelphia 76ers at Golden State Warriors Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks have been operating without a head coach since the decision to mutually part ways with Mike Budenholzer but, after an extensive search, that is set to change with the hiring of a replacement in Philadelphia 76ers assistant Lloyd Pierce.

On Friday evening, Marc J. Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski broke news of the hire, including the fact that Pierce will be under contract for three seasons with a team option for the fourth year.

Following that, the Hawks officially announced the move, citing an agreement in principle, and GM Travis Schlenk shed light on the decision.

“As we set out to find a new head coach for our team, it was critically important to find a dynamic teacher who could connect with and develop our young core while instilling the culture and high standards we feel are necessary in a successful program,” Schlenk indicated. “Lloyd Pierce checks every box, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him leading the Atlanta Hawks into the future.”

In early May, word broke that the Hawks interviewed Pierce for the vacancy and, following that discussion, Atlanta’s search reportedly narrowed to a quartet of candidates. Pierce then met with Hawks ownership as the reported front-runner on Tuesday and it appears that the conversations eventually led to an offer and an acceptance after a third meeting in Atlanta (and all kinds of buzz) on Friday.

Now 42 years old, Pierce has served on the 76ers staff under Brett Brown since 2013 and he was employed by the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors (connecting with Hawks GM Travis Schlenk) and Cleveland Cavaliers prior to that. He holds a strong reputation for player development and played for four years (alongside Steve Nash) at Santa Clara before an international playing stint and an extensive coaching career.

In the team’s official release, Pierce expressed his excitement over the opportunity.

“This is a day I’ve been working towards for a long time and it’s an honor to be the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks,” Pierce said. “I have great respect for Travis and strong belief in his plan to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta. After spending time with ownership, it’s clear they have a deep investment in and commitment to making this a model organization. This opportunity is a perfect fit for me, and I’m eager to get started.”

Recently, ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz shed light on Pierce and, in addition to saying he was a “name to watch in the coming years,” he lauded his potential as a head coach in the NBA.

He was named by the most diverse set of sources, from technocratic execs to veteran players. They admire his gravitas and cerebral strategic approach, but also value his ability to establish trust with players from LeBron James to Dario Saric.

In addition, Pierce has been credited with helping to lead Philadelphia’s defensive renaissance and he was recently stamped with approval from his now-former boss Brett Brown.

It will be interesting to see what Pierce and Schlenk elect to do when it comes to his assistant coaching staff, including names like Darvin Ham (who interviewed for the head coaching position), Taylor Jenkins, Ben Sullivan and Chris Jent. Still, the grander takeaway is that the extensive search is over and Lloyd Pierce’s first head coaching job will be with the Atlanta Hawks.

Stay tuned.