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Looking back at Pop’s opposing head coaches- Hawks edition

Nine head coaches have entered and exited since Pop took the clipboard

San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

As mentioned previously, an article entitled “Pop’s Incredible Longevity” revealed that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has coached against 307 different NBA coaches during his twenty-eight year tenure at the helm.

Since the firing of Bob Hill in 1996, Pop has consistently coached the Spurs, give or take an ejection or two. Tonight the Spurs face off against the Atlanta Hawks who are in their first full season with Quin Snyder at the helm. He and Pop go way back as Snyder was the head coach of the Utah Jazz from 2014-2022. Before than, Quin was the head coach of the Austin Toros from 2007-2010.

Also repeats on this list: Lenny Wilkens (1993-2000) and Nate McMillan (2021-2023).

Another familiar face - Mike Budenholzer who was Pop’s assistant in San Antonio from 1996-2013, when he took the job in Atlanta.

After Lenny Wilkens left Atlanta, he was replaced by Lon Kruger who served from 2000 to midway through the 2002-03 season when he famously guaranteed season ticket holders a trip to the playoffs or a $125 refund. He was fired midseason and the Hawks lost nearly half-a-million dollars.

Kruger was replaced by assistant coach Terry Stotts who will repeat on this list when we talk about his nine years in Portland. Stotts’ lone full season yielded a 28-54 record, ushering in the era of Mike Woodson.

Mike Woodson (2004-2010) brought improvements each season (not hard when you start 13-69 in your first season). Despite making the playoffs in the final three of his six seasons, he was dismissed after being knocked out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2010.

Long time assistant Larry Drew took his shot at the top spot in the wake of the Woodson firing and saw the Hawks through three seasons when no Eastern Conference team could find a way to beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the postseason. Drew’s contract expired in 2013 and the Hawks brought in Coach Bud.

Bud had five season in Atlanta earning Coach of the Year honors in 2015 when the Hawks went 60-22. Each season thereafter.

Bud and the Hawks parted ways in 2018 after the Hawks failed to make the playoffs and Lloyd Pierce was hired six days later. The former assistant to the Cavaliers, Warriors, Grizzlies, and 76ers missed the playoffs in his first two seasons and was fired after a 14-20 start to the 2020-21 campaign.

Wilkens, McMillan, Budenholzer, Stotts, Snyder...we’re seeing that outside of San Antonio (and perhaps Miami) that leasing might be preferable to buying when house-hunting...if you are a head coach in the NBA.


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