Nate McMillan won't coach against Pacers after Hawks assistant enters COVID-19 protocols
INDIANAPOLIS — Former Pacers head coach Nate McMillan, who is now the Hawks head coach, will not coach Wednesday night when Indiana hosts Atlanta at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
The Hawks announced Wednesday afternoon that McMillian's assistant and son, Jamelle McMillan, has entered the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Nate McMillian and the entire Hawks staff and team are fully vaccinated, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. However, "out of an abundance of caution" Nate McMillan will not coach "until he returns a series of negative Covid tests," the franchise announced.
Another assistant, Chris Jent, will fill in as the Hawks head coach.
“He called me up and said, ‘Hey, I just don’t feel comfortable and want to make sure everything’s OK, so I’m going to stay away from the game (Wednesday night),’” Jent said after Wednesday's shootaround, per the AJC.
Nate McMillan spent seven seasons on the Pacers staff from 2013-2020, with the last four as head coach before being fired in August 2020. He has amassed a 699-609 record in 18 seasons as an NBA head coach and would still receive credit for win No. 700 if the Hawks are victorious on Wednesday night, despite not attending the game.
McMillian is fourth in wins among active NBA coaches, trailing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (1,316), 76ers coach Doc Rivers (1,003) and Pacers coach Rick Carlisle (845).
The pandemic has also affected Indiana. Starting guard Justin Holiday tested positive for COVID-19 and is asymptomatic, a source familiar with the situation told IndyStar. He entered the league's health and safety protocols Tuesday and will not play Wednesday against the Hawks, ending his NBA-leading consecutive games played streak at 250. Holiday's vaccination status is unclear.
Lakers superstar LeBron James in the NBA's health and safety protocols as well. He said earlier this year he is fully vaccinated. According to teammate Anthony Davis, he was told by James that James is asymptomatic, per USA Today.
The league's health and safety protocols states that if a player tests positive for COVID-19, he must isolate for 10 consecutive days or register two straight negative COVID-19 PCR tests done at least 24 hours apart to return sooner.
An asymptomatic player must refrain from exercise for at least three consecutive days. He can resume exercise on the fourth day, but must remain in isolation. Once an asymptomatic player is cleared by his team or the NBA, he can continue playing in games.
However, if a player is not asymptomatic, his road back to the hardwood is not as simple with a longer stoppage from exercise and more health screenings.
Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Reach him via email: email@example.com.