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The Hawks had plenty of reasons to fire Nate McMillan. Back-to-back disappointing seasons. A poor track record of player development. An old-school offense that feels completely out of place in the modern NBA. The Hawks were justified in changing coaches purely based on what happened on the court, and yet, it's hard to overlook what happened off of it as a possible motivator for McMillan's ouster.

In December, Trae Young missed sat out of a game against the Denver Nuggets. The Athletic later reported that his absence was due to a disagreement with McMillan. Young, dealing with a shoulder injury at the time, missed that morning's shootaround to receive treatment. McMillan reportedly gave him two choices: come off of the bench against the Nuggets, or sit out the game entirely. Young apparently chose the latter, and did not attend the loss to Denver.

There is no greater coaching sin in the modern NBA than angering a star. Coaches are replaceable. Star players are not. So as we consider possible replacements for McMillan, we not only need to consider how those coaches might work with Young on the court, but how comfortable they would be with Young off of it. Relationship-building is the most important strength a coach can have in 2023. With that in mind, here are the best candidates to replace McMillan in Atlanta:

1. Quin Snyder

Quin Snyder tops this list because Quin Snyder is going to top every coaching candidates list this cycle. That's what happens when you win nearly 59 percent of your games for the small-market Utah Jazz. Snyder has built winners around multiple perimeter ball-handlers in Utah, and his pick-and-roll heavy system is a match made in heaven for Young. If the Hawks can land Snyder, they probably should.

But competition for him is going to be fierce. It's unclear which jobs are going to open up this offseason, but at the very least, there are going to be teams in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes that are looking for a new head coach, and those teams are going to appeal to both Snyder and Wembanyama, given Snyder's experience with fellow french big man Rudy Gobert. Snyder just spent a decade trying to compete for a championship without a championship-caliber roster in Utah. If the Hawks are going to convince him to try again, they're going to have to sell him on a roster that, right now, is struggling just to reach .500.

2. Mike D'Antoni

D'Antoni carries much of the same appeal as Snyder: a track record of regular-season success and offensive mastery, but he isn't going to attract nearly as much attention after being out of the NBA for the past two seasons. At 71 years old, it's unclear how much longer D'Antoni is going to want to coach, but if Atlanta is open to a shorter-term hire, D'Antoni checks plenty of boxes for the Hawks.

He's uniquely qualified to coach a two-point guard offense having done so in Houston with James Harden and both Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. He coached new Hawks general manager Landry Fields when they were with the Knicks. He's about as player-friendly as any coach in the NBA, and given his track record of producing MVPs, he'd likely appeal to Young quite a bit. He wouldn't solve the defensive issues that have plagued Young's teams for his entire career, but D'Antoni's teams have accomplished quite a bit on their offenses alone.

3. Ime Udoka

Ime Udoka is seemingly available now that the Celtics have elevated Joe Mazzulla to permanent head coach, and unlike D'Antoni, he's about as safe a defensive bet as you'll find on the current coaching market. Boston ranked 13th in defense in Brad Stevens' final year at the helm. Last season, Udoka had them ranked first. In the second half of the season, it wasn't even close. From Jan. 20 on, the 4.5-point per 100 possession gap between No. 1 Boston and No. 2 Phoenix defensively was bigger than the gap between Phoenix and No. 18 Charlotte.

The bigger question here is how Udoka -- who was suspended by Boston for having an inappropriate relationship with a staff member -- would mesh with Young. Last season, Udoka wasn't shy about criticizing his players in public. Yet when he lost his job, a number of them came out in his support. That's a very difficult tightrope to walk, but the truth is that Young is the sort of player who often needs to be criticized. If Udoka can do so without losing him entirely, he'll be a great fit in Atlanta.

4. Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Atkinson made his name as an assistant in Atlanta under Mike Budenholzer. He thrived in a low-pressure environment for the rebuilding Nets. But when the Nets landed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving? Atkinson didn't last a full season. It's unclear where exactly things went wrong, but Atkinson has been picky since then. He accepted the Hornets job last offseason before ultimately deciding against moving to Charlotte. Could the Hawks persuade him to return?

That's unclear, but Atkinson's track record of developing young players would surely appeal to a Hawks team that's operating with fewer trade assets than its competitors. He coached a stellar pick-and-roll-centric offense in Brooklyn as well considering the talent he had to work with. The basketball fit is here. The only question is whether or not Young and Atkinson make sense as a pairing.

5. Charles Lee

Lee is another Budenholzer disciple, and he's still working with his mentor in Milwaukee. Unlike our first four candidates, he has no head-coaching record to fall back on. That won't be the case for long. Lee has been among the most highly regarded assistants in basketball for several years now, and whether it's Atlanta or somebody else, he is going to get a head-coaching job soon.

A first-time head coach can be both a blessing and a curse. Udoka's season in Boston is a perfect example of that. He needed a few months to adjust to the top job, but once he did, he had no bad habits or old biases to fall back on. Does Atlanta want to wait for a first-timer to figure it out? The Hawks might not have time for that. Dejounte Murray is a free agent in 2024, and because of the current CBA, he is virtually unextendable. If the Hawks don't figure things out quickly, they might lose him for nothing next summer. That's going to make this job even more difficult for whoever lands it. That coach won't just have to appease Young, but Murray as well.