Former Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, Warriors associate head coach Kenny Atkinson, and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin have emerged as the three finalists in the Bucks‘ search for a new head coach, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The three candidates will meet with the team’s leadership this week as part of the final interview process, Wojnarowski adds.
The Bucks fired former coach Mike Budenholzer after a disappointing first-round playoff exit, despite the fact that he led the club to the championship in 2021 and won the most regular season games in the NBA during his five seasons at the helm.
Nurse, who led Toronto to its first title in 2019 in his debut season as an NBA head coach, was dismissed after the team went 41-41 and was eliminated in the play-in tournament. The 2020 Coach of the Year compiled a 227-163 (.582) regular season record and a 25-16 (.610) playoff mark with the Raptors.
The 55-year-old is reportedly in “high demand” and could end up with more than one job offer. He also interviewed for the Sixers’ lead coaching job and is expected to meet with the Suns as well.
A longtime NBA assistant who has spent time with the Knicks, Hawks and Clippers, Atkinson was the head coach of the Nets from 2016-20, accruing a 118-190 record (.383) over parts of four seasons. He has been with the Warriors for the past two seasons.
The Nets improved their win total in each of Atkinson’s first three seasons, making the playoffs in ’18/19. Known as a player development guru, the 55-year-old had a verbal agreement to become Charlotte’s head coach last offseason, but backed out of the arrangement before it was finalized, citing family considerations as a factor in his decision.
Griffin, 48, has interviewed (or was expected to interview) for nearly every open head coaching job over the past season-plus, including the vacancies that popped up after the ’22/23 season concluded for the Rockets, Pistons, Raptors and Bucks. He just completed his 15th season as an assistant and has been with Toronto since ’18/19.
As our coaching tracker shows, the Bucks either interviewed or were expected to interview at least 13 candidates for the position, including several other former head coaches.