Van Exel returns to Hawks as assistant coach

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ATLANTA — Nick Van Exel has returned to the Atlanta Hawks, joining Nate McMillan’s staff as an assistant coach.

Van Exel spent the past two years as a scout with the Dallas Mavericks. The Hawks announced his hiring Wednesday, bringing back a former All-Star who served as a player development instructor for Atlanta from 2010 to 2012.

“Since his playing career ended, Nick has been very successful in helping develop young guards for the teams he’s worked with, including several that have turned into All-Stars,” McMillan, who led the Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals last season after taking over as interim coach, said in a statement.

The Hawks are led by 22-year-old point guard Trae Young, who is heading into his fourth season. They also have young swingmen De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish as well as a pair of second-round picks they hope will develop into solid NBA guards in Skylar Mays and Sharife Cooper.

Van Exel will get a chance to work with that promising group under McMillan, who was retained as the permanent coach after the Hawks’ playoff run.

“We feel he’ll be a great addition helping our young core guards continue to progress,” McMillan said.

Van Exel has previous coaching experience with the Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks. He also was a head coach for one season in the G League and spent a year as an assistant at Texas Southern.

Over a 13-year playing career in the NBA, Van Exel played with six teams. He earned a spot in the 1998 All-Star Game while with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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