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Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce upbeat about chances to become Atlanta Hawks head coach

Pierce, who ovesees the Sixers defense, had a second interview with the Hawks on Tuesday night.

Lloyd Pierce, here flanked by Justin Anderson, left, and Markelle Fultz, has had two interviews for the Atlanta Hawks’ head-coaching job.
Lloyd Pierce, here flanked by Justin Anderson, left, and Markelle Fultz, has had two interviews for the Atlanta Hawks’ head-coaching job.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

BOSTON — Lloyd Pierce said Tuesday night's dinner meeting with Atlanta Hawks ownership here went well.

The informal meeting served as the 76ers assistant coach's second interview with the Hawks for their vacant head coaching job. The Sixers were in town to face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the  Eastern Conference semifinals.

Pierce, who will turn 42 on Friday, said he wasn't sure where the Hawks stood in their hiring process, but he thinks he's a good fit for the job.

"The main reason is just looking at their young players," he said Wednesday. "They got four guys in the draft. They've got a couple of young players that are on their roster. So what's most important when you are dealing with young players and young talent, it's the development and relational side of that.

"It's kind of my track record. It's anybody's track record of how do you communicate, how do you work with players, how do you develop, what does that mean?

The Hawks tanked this season and finished tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the league's third-worst record, 24-58. After losing a tiebreaker to the Mavericks, Atlanta has the fourth-best odds, at 13.7 percent, of getting the first pick in the draft lottery next Tuesday. The Hawks have a 42.3 percent chance of getting a top-four pick and can end up with no worse than the seventh slot.

The Hawks have two other first-round picks — Nos. 19 and 30 — and a second-rounder, No. 33.

Pierce, who runs the Sixers defense, has been on the coaching staff since the fall of 2013. The Sixers won a combined 47 games during his first three seasons, including the team's 10-72 campaign in 2015-16. The Sixers went 28-54 last season before improving to 52-30 this season.

"Some similarities to what we went through here. Not all,"  Pierce said.

Loaded with fringe players, the Sixers were one of the youngest teams in the league the last four seasons. But in addition to young guys, Atlanta also has established players. So the next coach must mesh the two groups.

"So I would think that's the advantage I play," Pierce said. "I think that the direction a couple of teams are looking at, and trying to find the perfect mix and balance to address those needs I feel is important."

Before Pierce joined the Sixers, he had assistant-coaching stops with the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors. Pierce was also the Cleveland Cavaliers' player development coordinator from 2007-10. But his experience in Philadelphia is perhaps the most impressive item on his resume.

Under Pierce's guidance this season, the Sixers had one of the league's top defenses. They were tied for sixth with the Miami Heat in opponents' field-goal shooting, 44.9 percent. The Sixers were 10th in the league in points allowed, averaging 106.

After four seasons of losing, the Sixers finally have established themselves as winners. The process to getting to this point was grueling to players and coaches alike.

So why would Pierce be willing to leave a team on the rise for a squad that's expected to struggle?

"I think in coaching, it's not taking a step back," he said. "It's taking on a different challenge, a different responsibility. In this case, it would be a different role."

Pierce also has been rumored as a head-coaching candidate for the Milwaukee Bucks. However, he has not been contacted by Milwaukee.