Bucks Dismiss Head Coach Adrian Griffin

2:46pm: The Bucks have made it official, announcing in a press release that Griffin has been dismissed from his position with the team and that Prunty will serve as the interim head coach.

“This was a difficult decision to make during the season,” general manager Jon Horst said in a statement. “We are working immediately toward hiring our next head coach. We thank Coach Griffin for his hard work and contributions to the team.”

1:43pm: The Bucks are making a head coaching change, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the team is dismissing Adrian Griffin.

It’s a shocking turn of events for a Bucks team whose 30-13 record is tied for second-best in the NBA, and for Griffin, who was in his first year as a head coach, having been hired by Milwaukee last June. The former Raptors assistant reportedly had the support of two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo at the time of his hiring.

Still, while the Bucks have an excellent record and the NBA’s second-best offensive rating (120.6), the club’s defensive performance has fallen off sharply under Griffin. Milwaukee’s 116.8 defensive rating ranks 22nd in the league; last season, the team had the NBA’s fourth-best defense.

Setting aside the Bucks’ defensive struggles – which can be partly attributed to personnel changes, including losing perimeter stopper Jrue Holiday – it hasn’t all been smooth sailing in Milwaukee so far this season.

Griffin’s top assistant coach, Terry Stotts, unexpectedly and abruptly stepped down from his position just before the regular season began; Antetokounmpo and Griffin had a heated on-court disagreement in November; and Bobby Portis reportedly challenged the head coach during a locker-room meeting following December’s in-season tournament semifinal loss to Indiana.

According to Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link), there have been “steady rumblings” in NBA circles in recent weeks that multiple Bucks veterans, including Giannis, had been losing faith in the first-time head coach.

We’ll likely hear more details in the coming hours or days about why the Bucks felt the need to make a change, but the move feels reminiscent of the 30-11 Cavaliers replacing David Blatt during the 2015/16 season. In that instance, the team recognized that things weren’t quite right with Blatt at the helm and made a move in the hopes of increasing its championship upside — Cleveland won the title a few months later.

Griffin will exit his first head coaching job with the fourth-best winning percentage (.698) in NBA history, notes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (via Twitter). Bucks assistant Joe Prunty is expected to take over as Milwaukee’s head coach on an interim basis, reports Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

As Bobby Marks of ESPN observes (via Twitter), this will be the third time that Prunty has taken over as an interim head coach during a season. He also did so in Milwaukee following the firing of Jason Kidd in 2018 and last season in Atlanta after Nate McMillan was let go.

Prunty likely won’t be the long-term answer on the Bucks’ bench though. Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links) both say that Doc Rivers is a strong contender for the permanent job, while Wojnarowski tweets that Milwaukee is expected to look at a pool of “accomplished and available” veteran coaches, including Rivers.

The Bucks’ next game is on Wednesday at home vs. the Cavaliers.

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