June 16, 2024

MILWAUKEE — Doc Rivers is finalizing a deal to take over because the Milwaukee Bucks coach a day after the firing of Adrian Griffin, an individual with information of the negotiations instructed The Related Press on Wednesday.

Rivers and the Bucks had been nonetheless negotiating on Wednesday, in keeping with the one that spoke to the AP on situation of anonymity as a result of no contract had been accomplished.

ESPN, the place Rivers has labored this season an analyst, reported that Rivers has agreed to a deal in precept. ESPN’s public relations division launched an announcement on social media from head of occasion and studio manufacturing David Roberts saying, “We want Doc properly and we look ahead to documenting the subsequent chapter of his teaching profession.”

Interim coach Joe Prunty will coach the Bucks on Wednesday evening once they host the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bucks common supervisor Jon Horst held a information convention earlier than the sport to debate Griffin’s dismissal however declined to debate the coach’s potential successor.

“We’re not going to speak about Doc tonight,” Horst mentioned. “That’s not a part of this. There will likely be sooner or later hopefully a time the place we will do this, however it is a likelihood for us to sort of dive into the Adrian Griffin piece.”

The Bucks fired Griffin on Tuesday regardless of having a 30-13 file that matches the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves for the second-best mark within the league. Milwaukee is 3 1/2 video games behind the Boston Celtics within the Japanese Convention standings.

“We consider that it is a good crew proper now, and with enhancements, we’ve an opportunity to be nice,” mentioned Horst, who indicated he didn’t seek the advice of gamers earlier than making this determination. “We’re on the lookout for a technique to actually make this an ideal crew.”

Griffin had by no means been a head coach till the Bucks employed him final summer time, although he had spent 16 years as an assistant. The Bucks could be changing him with somebody who has practically a quarter-century of head teaching expertise.

Rivers has loads of Milwaukee ties, as he performed for Marquette from 1980-83 and his No. 31 jersey hangs from the Fiserv Discussion board rafters. He additionally has a championship background after main the Boston Celtics to a title in 2008 and a Sport 7 Finals look two years later.

He didn’t have as a lot postseason success in later stints with the Los Angeles Clippers (2013-20) and Philadelphia 76ers (2020-23). The 76ers fired him final 12 months after they exited within the second spherical of the playoffs every of his three seasons in Philadelphia.

Rivers has a 1,097-763 regular-season file and 111-104 playoff mark in 24 seasons with the Magic (1999-2004), Celtics (2004-13), Clippers and 76ers.

His 1,097 regular-season wins put him one shy of Larry Brown for eighth most in NBA historical past. His departure from ESPN introduced an emotional response from his broadcast teammates, Mike Breen and Doris Burke, earlier than ABC aired the Dallas-Phoenix sport on Wednesday evening.

“Our pricey good friend has determined that life as an NBA broadcaster is method too annoying, so he’s determined to go for a less-stressful job — an NBA head coach on a crew that’s attempting to win a championship,” Breen mentioned on the published. “We thank him for all his many weeks of service and we want him all of the luck on the earth.”

Rivers could be taking on a crew that’s chasing its second NBA title in 4 years and has proven a way of urgency within the strikes it has made during the last 12 months.

The Bucks posted the NBA’s finest regular-season file final 12 months, however fired coach Mike Budenholzer after a surprising 4-1 first-round playoff loss to the Miami Warmth. Budenholzer had led the 2020-21 Bucks to the franchise’s first championship in half a century.

Milwaukee adopted up the hiring of Griffin by buying seven-time all-NBA guard Damian Lillard from the Portland Path Blazers to crew him with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who signed a three-year, $186 million contract extension shortly earlier than the season. The Bucks gave up two-time All-Star guard Jrue Vacation and Grayson Allen within the Lillard commerce, which additionally left them with out management over any of their first-round draft picks till 2031.

Now they’ve fired Griffin after simply 43 video games. Horst acknowledged the dynamic of the crew had modified since Griffin’s arrival.

“These are particular alternatives,” Horst mentioned. “The expertise grew to become much more particular. The dedication to the crew much more important. And I feel that elevated the urgency.”

Horst acknowledged how the dynamic of the crew had modified since Griffin’s rent whereas discussing the explanations behind the dismissal. The Bucks’ offseason strikes additionally included re-signing Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez.

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Rivers’ speedy job at Milwaukee could be to improve a protection that carried out poorly sufficient underneath Griffin to solid doubt on the Bucks’ probabilities of critically contending for a title. The Bucks rank twenty first in defensive score, down from fourth final season.

“Defensively, we’ve a expertise group I feel that may be higher than what they’ve been thus far,” Horst mentioned. “Is {that a} top-five protection, a top-10, top-15? I don’t know. That’s what we’re attempting to resolve right here with the roster as constructed.”

Though the Bucks have one of many league’s finest data, they face a a lot more durable schedule the remainder of the best way. They’ve produced some troublesome performances whereas going 6-5 in January, although they’ve received 5 of their final six video games.

They misplaced back-to-back video games in opposition to the Indiana Pacers, who’re 4-1 in opposition to Milwaukee this season. They trailed by 31 factors at halftime of a 132-116 residence loss to Utah through which Lillard was unavailable. They wanted a 3-pointer by Lillard on the buzzer to beat Sacramento at residence in extra time and suffered a 40-point loss at Cleveland final week when Antetokounmpo was out with a bruised proper shoulder.

These struggles had led to some frustrations from gamers in postgame media classes, however Horst disputed the thought Griffin had misplaced the locker room.

“My greatest frustration with sort of the aftermath was that that’s the narrative,” Horst mentioned. “That’s simply not my opinion. That doesn’t imply that I’m proper or improper, however my opinion, my evaluation and possession’s evaluation and going by this wasn’t an evaluation that he misplaced the locker room, that there was dysfunction, that there have been gamers that had been leaping off the ship. That’s simply not our evaluation.”

AP reporter Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed.