Mavericks' Rick Carlisle calls Hawks' firing of Lloyd Pierce 'insane', questions timing of decision

Carlisle spoke out shortly after the Hawks fired Pierce following a 14-20 start to the season

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle called the firing of Lloyd Pierce "insane" and even questioned the timing of the Atlanta Hawks' decision in a lengthy statement released on Monday night. 

Carlisle spoke out shortly after the Hawks fired Pierce following a 14-20 start to the season that leaves Atlanta ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference. 

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"I know that Black History Month officially ended yesterday, but on the way over here on the bus I heard about the dismissal of Lloyd Pierce in Atlanta," Carlisle began in his statement. "This is a shocking development to all of us in the coaching world."

He continued: "The timing seems odd. The team had injuries, a lot of those kinds of things, but Lloyd is a guy that has had a profound effect on the landscape of social justice, particularly over the last 12 months."

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Carlisle, who also serves as the president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, went on to point out all of the efforts made by Pierce to bring attention to social injustices, not only in the NBA but in the state of Georgia as well. 

"He was the chairperson in Coaches for Racial Justice. He was the guy that was the first guy in the entire NBA to facilitate his local arena as a voting center in Georgia. That triggered a chain of events that led to 22 NBA arenas being certified as voting centers," he wrote. "As we’re all well aware, the state of Georgia, in very large part because of Lloyd’s work and his commitment, went from being a traditionally Republican state to a Democratic state—not only in the Electoral College vote in the presidential election but also in the runoff elections in January, which has massively changed the landscape of our country."

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, file photo, Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce shouts to the team during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, file photo, Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce shouts to the team during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Pierce, hired in 2018, was 63-120 (.344) with the Hawks, missing the playoffs in each of his two completed seasons. The decision to fire him came after a 109-99 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday night. 

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"Lloyd is a great young coach," Carlisle said. "He is a trusted friend of the coaches association and I really feel for him and his family. He just had a baby last week. I mean, this is just insane. But one of the real bright shining lights in our association, a great young coach who I’m certain will have more opportunities, but very surprising the way this developed."

Assistant coach Nate McMillan was named interim head coach.

"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 president Travis Schlenk said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.