12:36pm: Former Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy and Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson are expected to be among the Bucks' top targets as the team begins its coaching search, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
12:05pm: Following a four-game sweep at the hands of the top-seeded Heat, the Bucks have decided to replace interim head coach Jim Boylan, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gardner reports (via Twitter) that Boylan is "out" as Milwaukee's coach, with the Bucks confirming (Twitter link) that he won't return.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein had reported earlier in April that Boylan had a slim chance of keeping his job with the Bucks, while Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times noted this weekend that there were "increasing whispers" about Boylan being replaced.
With Boylan out, the Bucks will begin searching for a candidate to take over as the team's third head coach of the year. Scott Skiles and the Bucks parted ways back in January, resulting in Boylan assuming the reins to the team on an interim basis. Milwaukee had a 22-28 record under Boylan, sneaking into the playoffs as an eighth seed before being quickly dispatched by Miami. Whoever coaches the Bucks next may be working with a very different roster, with Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, J.J. Redick, and Mike Dunleavy among the players facing free agency.
Boylan is the fifth head coach to step down or be fired since the regular season ended. Interestingly, all five coaches were on Eastern Conference teams -- Doug Collins (76ers), Lawrence Frank (Pistons), Mike Dunlap (Bobcats), and Byron Scott (Cavaliers) are the other four no longer coaching their respective clubs.
The Bucks' search for a new head coach will begin immediately, according to the team (Twitter link). Grantland's Zach Lowe and Keith Langlois of Pistons.com have both speculated that former Milwaukee assistant coach Kelvin Sampson could be a top candidate (Twitter links).
Brandon Jennings predicted that the Bucks would topple the Heat in six games but things didn't go that way exactly. Miami completed their sweep of Milwaukee tonight, winning 88-77 behind a 30 point performance from LeBron James. This figures to be an interesting offseason for the Bucks, and here's the latest as they look ahead to the summer..
Marc Stein's final ESPN.com Weekend Dime of the season doubles as his awards ballot, and he has LeBron James winning MVP, of course. More intriguing are his selections in some of the tighter races: George Karl for Coach of the Year, Kevin Martin for Sixth Man of the Year, Tim Duncan for Defensive Player of the Year and Jrue Holiday for Most Improved Player. Stein also has plenty of news from around the league, as we round up:
This time last year, it seemed Bucks GM John Hammond's job was on the line as the team chased the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The team fell short last year, but Hammond kept his job, and now the Bucks are in line for that eighth seed in the East. In the meantime, Hammond has been busy, having changed coaches, signed a three-year extension, and traded for J.J. Redick. There's plenty more work ahead, as the team's top three guards could all hit free agency this summer, and a decision on an extension for Larry Sanders looms. HoopsWorld's Bill Ingram caught up with Hammond, who reflected on some of what he's done.
On the Redick trade:
"We were hoping to make the playoffs. We thought adding a piece like J.J. Redick could help solidify that opportunity for us and he has. He’s been a great addition to our team. We’re also happy to have Gustavo (Ayon) and Ish Smith. It might be easy to forget about Gustavo and his abilities. We like him as a player, but it was a difficult trade to make to say the least. To move a piece like Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb; we like both those players, both good young players, but we felt at that time it was the right thing for our organization."
"Jim’s done a nice job with the team and I think we’re all seeing these situations that have occurred. It’s not a rarity in the NBA to have something like this happen. It’s not normalcy, but it’s not rarity by any stretch, so it happens. Most of the times when these sort of things happen, the situation goes south and goes south very quickly, but Jim has done a great job of working with our guys and communicating with our guys and motivating them to play hard. He deserves a lot of credit."
On the development of Sanders, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate:
"You draft Larry with the 15th pick and you’re hoping that when you used a first-round pick on a player that they turn out to be a location guy or better yet a starter, and Larry has turned out to be a significant piece of our team and a part of our team. Obviously, he’s one of the better shot blockers in the NBA. It’s been great for Larry, but he’s just taking advantage of the opportunity, and I think his game still has a chance to change and grow, and he’ll continue to develop as a player."
Losing Anderson Varejao for a good chunk of the season was a blow to the Cavaliers' on-court prospects and to the team's chances of extracting value for him at the trade deadline, but it wasn't just the Cavs that were adversely affected by Varejao's leg injury. According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein (Twitter link), earning an All-Star berth would have triggered a $1MM bonus in Varejao's contract. Given the big man's strong performance early in the season (14.1 PPG, 14.4 RPG, 22.0 PER), an All-Star berth appeared well within reach before he was sidelined.
Here are a few more Wednesday morning items out of the Central Division:
The latest news and notes from around the Eastern Conference on Sunday afternoon:
The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Thursday night:
10:06am: The Bucks have officially confirmed that Skiles is out as head coach and that Boylan will assume the reins.
"Scott and I met yesterday after practice and after some honest discussion, we both came to the conclusion that it was best to part ways," Hammond said in the press release. "It is never an easy decision to make, but in the end a decision we felt was best for both parties. I want to thank Scott for his hard work, dedication and the imprint he leaves on our team and our entire organization. We all wish him and his family well."
TUESDAY, 12:09am: Boylan will coach the Bucks for rest of the season, according to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times. Woelfel hears the team was close to firing Skiles recently, but the coach earned extra time when the Bucks beat the Heat on December 29th. That wasn't his first brush with an exit from Milwaukee. Skiles, thinking he wouldn't be back, cleaned out his desk at the end of last season, Woelfel notes (All Twitter links).
MONDAY, 11:51pm: Assistant coach Jim Boylan will take over for Skiles on an interim basis, just as he did when the Bulls fired Skiles in 2007, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
11:32pm: The Bucks and Scott Skiles have agreed to part ways immediately, reports Sam Amick of USA Today. The move comes on the heels of a report by TNT's David Aldridge that indicated Skiles would not return to the team when his contract expires this summer.
Skiles and GM John Hammond entered the season with high stakes on the team's performance, but after a strong start, the Bucks have lost four in a row to drop to 16-16. Skiles' agent, Keith Glass, denied rumors last year that Skiles was seeking a buyout of the final year of his deal. A reputed taskmaster, Skiles has clashed with some players, notably Stephen Jackson, who recently scoffed at the suggestion that he and Skiles had spoken since the team dealt him away last season. Skiles "hated his team" this season, a close friend told Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
Skiles finishes his tenure in Milwaukee with a 162-182 record, highlighted by a 46-36 campaign in 2009/10, when the sixth-seeded Bucks took the No. 3 seed Hawks to seven games in the first round even without an injured Andrew Bogut. That was the only playoff appearance in Skiles' four and a half seasons with the team. He's 443-433 all-time as a head coach, including stops with the Suns and Bulls.