Doc Rivers

Central Notes: M. Williams, Grimes, Rivers, Mitchell, Garland

After blasting the officiating following Monday’s loss to New York for “the absolute worst call of the season,” Pistons head coach Monty Williams stood by his comments on Tuesday, according to a report from

I think I said enough last night,” Williams said before Detroit’s win over Chicago. “I’m not of the mindset of creating or building up an argument against the NBA or the officials. I was talking about an isolated incident last night, and I’ll stand on what I said and what I saw after the game. As I told our guys today, we have to move past it but learn from it.”

Given that it’s been nearly two full days since Williams aired his grievances about the officiating, it looks like the NBA has elected not to fine him for those comments.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Pistons wing Quentin Grimes, who was acquired from New York at the trade deadline, could help solve some of Detroit’s issues, says James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. As Edwards explains, the Pistons previously had a couple of very good wing shooters in Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks who struggled defensively. Grimes, on the other hand, is younger, more athletic, and far superior on defense compared to those two departed veterans, while still being able to space the floor. Edwards highlights (via video) some of Grimes’ impressive defensive techniques and instincts, and thinks the 23-year-old could be a long-term fixture in Detroit moving forward.
  • Speaking of upgrades on defense, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer details how head coach Doc Rivers has had a positive impact on the Bucks since he replaced Adrian Griffin. According to O’Connor, Milwaukee looks like a much more cohesive unit defensively under Rivers, with game plans that change depending on the matchup. The Bucks only held opponents to under 100 points once in 43 games under Griffin, but have done so four times in the past seven games with Rivers at the helm, O’Connor notes.
  • Various injuries — including a broken jaw — have led to a frustrating season for Cavaliers guard Darius Garland. As Chris Fedor of writes (in a subscriber-only story), fans have been critical of Garland since he returned to action at the end of last month. After Sunday’s victory over Washington, in which Garland made some key shots to help turn the momentum around, Donovan Mitchell defended his backcourt mate. “The kid has done a lot here,” Mitchell told Fedor. “So much. For it to be devalued all for a few games is complete B.S. It’s not fair to him. He’s done so much for us as a team. Before I got here. While I’ve been here. He’s going to get back to his form. The kid is 24 years old. It’s not always easy to figure out a fit. He has done a phenomenal job of it and will continue to get back to it. Come playoff time, he will be right there with us. We have his back.”

Sixers Notes: Rivers, Beverley, Melton, Harris

Even though he wasn’t able to deliver the championship that Philadelphia fans want, Doc Rivers has fond memories of his time with the Sixers, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Rivers reflected on his three years with the team after his Bucks posted a convincing win in his return to the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday afternoon.

“It was awesome,” Rivers said. “I mean like, really. I had three really good years here. And I’m not talking about basketball. I’m talking about life. I enjoyed my stay here. I have made friends for life here. … The fans were good. A couple of hilarious comments. I will say that.”

Management decided a coaching change was necessary last spring after the Sixers were ousted by Boston in the second round, marking the third straight year the team lost in the conference semifinals. Rivers talked about that loss, asking reporters how many of them had picked Philadelphia to win and stating that Game 6 was the team’s best chance to close out the series. He also looked back on Joel Embiid‘s development into the league MVP and the chaos surrounding Ben Simmons and James Harden.

“So [there was] a lot of stuff going on,” Rivers said. “Some of it was out of my control. But overall, for me, if you don’t win a title, you’re never exactly happy. That’s why we all do this. … But I loved it here.”

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Also returning was Patrick Beverley, who spent the first part of the season in Philadelphia before being shipped to Milwaukee at the deadline, Pompey states in a separate story. Beverley has taken some shots at his former team on his podcast, but he was conciliatory on Sunday, saying he was “excited” to be back and he understands the reasons for the trade. “I was probably playing some of the best basketball I’ve played in my career,” he said. “So at the end of the day, that’s a business. You get a 35-year-old on a minimum. You can get a younger guy and a second-round pick for him. You can say, that’s a hell of a deal. I understand the business part of it. But wasn’t shocked. Not in this league, definitely wasn’t shocked. I’m just happy they sent me here instead of Washington, D.C., or something.”
  • De’Anthony Melton returned from a spine issue on Friday that sidelined him for most of the past two months, notes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Combined with the recent addition of Kyle Lowry, the Sixers have plenty of options in the backcourt, and coach Nick Nurse has started experimenting with three-guard lineups.
  • The Sixers need more production from Tobias Harris for the offense to be effective, especially while Embiid is sidelined with a meniscus injury, observes Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports.

Central Notes: Cunningham, Middleton, Rivers, Williams

Cade Cunningham knows he won’t get more individual accolades until the Pistons turn things around, he told James Edwards III of The Athletic. Cunningham has put up solid stats after missing most of last season due to a shin injury but Detroit has won just eight games.

“With how the league is, we reward winning,” Cunningham said. “People are going to say everything I’m doing is empty and meaningless until I win games. That’s what I plan on doing.”

Cunningham is eligible to sign a rookie scale extension this offseason. He’s averaging 22.2 points and 7.4 assists per game, and it would be a surprise if Detroit doesn’t make a max offer to the 2021 No. 1 pick.

“I don’t do the comparison thing as far as me to these other players. I know that I’m that level of being an All-Star, but I haven’t won enough games. I respect that,” Cunningham said. “I know that once I do that, all the other stuff will come with it.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Khris Middleton didn’t play in the Bucks’ 21-point victory over Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon but it shouldn’t be long before he returns to the lineup, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. The veteran wing hasn’t played since the All-Star break due to a left ankle sprain. “He’s getting closer. I don’t know if I’m going to say close enough that we could think next game, but he’s getting a lot closer. He’s feeling a lot better,” coach Doc Rivers said.
  • Speaking of Rivers, Jamal Collier of ESPN details the coach’s first month since replacing Adrian Griffin as the Bucks‘ head coach. Rivers revealed that he said in a phone conversation with his brother that he felt “full” again after returning from his broadcasting job to the sidelines. “I missed it more than I thought,” Rivers said. “I thought I may not do this again. If the right job [didn’t come up] I wasn’t doing it. … Then the first day … man, I felt like I was at home again. I didn’t know that. I just felt normal. Good. I felt full. You’ve got to be full when you’re working and I felt full.”
  • Patrick Williams‘ future is cloudy after word broke that he’ll need season-ending foot surgery. The Bulls forward will be a restricted free agent this offseason unless the front office doesn’t give him a $12.97MM qualifying offer. Williams told The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry he’s not overly concerned about what the offseason will bring. “I know what I showed when I was healthy this season,” he said. “I think I know who I am as a player and what I’m capable of as a player. So, ‘nervous’ isn’t the word. I’m kind of excited to see what happens. And just ready to get back to playing.”

Atlantic Notes: Rivers, Simmons, C. Johnson, Dick

Sixers players are eager to welcome back Doc Rivers, who will return to Philadelphia this afternoon for the first time since being fired as the team’s head coach last spring, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Rivers was out of coaching for just a few months, leaving an analyst job with ESPN to take over the Bucks in January. Most of the Sixers’ roster played under Rivers, including Tyrese Maxey, who developed into an All-Star with help from his former coach.

“I appreciate Doc, you know? I really do,” Maxey said. “I think one thing that I do appreciate him for is early in my career, like my rookie year, he made me earn my spot, and that’s gonna go a long way for me. I felt like I was good enough to play, but he was able to humble me and make me earn my spot.”

Rivers still had two seasons remaining on his contract when the Sixers decided to dismiss him following a Game 7 loss to Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals. It marked the third straight year the team had been ousted in the second round, and management believed a change was necessary to make a longer playoff run.

Paul Reed, who has become Philadelphia’s starting center while Joel Embiid is injured, tells a similar story to Maxey’s, saying Rivers guided him to become a better player.

“I had to earn minutes with Doc,” Reed said. “He wouldn’t give young guys minutes. I just learned how to play the game the right way. It ain’t all about scoring.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets guard Ben Simmons was forced out of Saturday night’s game after hurting his left leg in the third quarter, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Interim coach Kevin Ollie originally told reporters that Simmons injured his knee and would have imaging done, but a team spokesman later clarified that the injury is elsewhere on the leg and that no tests are planned. Injuries have limited Simmons to 14 games this season and 56 total since Brooklyn acquired him in 2022.
  • Cameron Johnson came off the bench for the second straight game since Ollie took over as the Nets‘ interim coach, Lewis adds. Ollie indicated that Johnson, who signed a four-year, $95MM extension last summer, will be given a chance to win his starting job back. “Roles are going to change; nothing is permanent,” Ollie said. “But I want him to embrace this team role that he has and come out there and play his best minutes. And I think we’re going to see that from CJ and understanding that we have to do things as a team and focus on that.”
  • Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic believes Gradey Dick is “getting more comfortable playing NBA minutes” (YouTube video link). The rookie shooting guard has settled into a regular bench role and scored 18 points Friday in Atlanta.

Central Notes: Giannis, Gallinari, Pistons, Haliburton

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said former coach Adrian Griffin was “figuring things out” before the team fired him last month, but he’s enjoying the security of having Doc Rivers in charge, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Antetokounmpo felt like he had to become a more vocal locker room leader earlier in the season with a first-time head coach running the team. That responsibility has eased, and Antetokounmpo expressed full confidence in Rivers’ ability to get the team ready for the postseason.

“We have to keep on evolving. We don’t have to change our identity,” he said. “Of course, we gotta be stronger. We gotta be tougher. I have to play better. I have to see the game better. But we have to keep on evolving. We have to add coach Doc’s philosophy with what has been working and hopefully can create a great mix for the next 25 games that we have and compete in the playoffs.”

Another major difference for Milwaukee will be the presence of Damian Lillard, a supreme scorer with the ability to take over playoff games. Antetokounmpo and Lillard had discussions about the direction of the season while they were in Indianapolis for All-Star Weekend, Nehm adds.

“I am his biggest fan,” Antetokounmpo said. “Good or bad, I ride with Dame until the f—ing end. I ride with Dame. Like I’ve been saying this over and over again. This. Is. His. Team. Down the stretch, he’s going to get the ball. There’s nothing else that we will do. I don’t know how else to put it. I don’t know what else to say. But at the end of the day, he has to believe it too.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Coach Billy Donovan talked to Danilo Gallinari about joining the Bulls before he opted to sign with Milwaukee, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Donovan, who coached Gallinari during the 2019/20 season in Oklahoma City, said the veteran forward was looking for a situation with a greater opportunity for playing time.
  • Pistons coach Monty Williams said winning as many games as possible will be the priority for the rest of the season, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. “I’m not going to be throwing certain combinations on the floor just to see how they look,” Williams said. “We’re done with that … we’ll be competing.”
  • Tyrese Haliburton had been listed as questionable with a hamstring issue for every game since January 30, but he’s not on the Pacers‘ injury report for Thursday’s contest with Detroit, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Aaron Nesmith will miss the game with a sprained right ankle, while Jalen Smith is questionable due to back spasms.

Pacific Notes: Podziemski, Green, Kuminga, Rivers, Harden

First-round pick Brandin Podziemski has been a revelation for the Warriors, quickly becoming an integral part of the team. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater details how Golden State’s front office became enamored with him and how quickly he earned a spot in the rotation.

However, the Warriors guard feels he has a much higher ceiling.

“I want to be an All-Star,” Podziemski said. “You know, (Jonathan Kuminga) has taken that next step of really being in that conversation. To see his growth just this year has been pretty special. So going into the summer after this year elevating my game to another level, doing the things that I’m deficient in now and making them as efficient as possible, I think I can get there.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • While Draymond Green contacted super-agent Rich Paul in an unsuccessful effort to get LeBron James to consider a trade from the Lakers to Golden State, Green told Warriors owner Joe Lacob to hold onto the team’s blossoming young forward in any trade discussions. “The one thing the NBA does not want to see, is Anthony Davis and Kuminga together for the next 10 years. That would be scary!” he said in an NBA on TNT interview (Twitter link).
  • Former Sixers coach Doc Rivers was consulted by the Clippers before they acquired James Harden from Philadelphia, he told Tomer Azarly of Clutch Points. Rivers has since taken over the Bucks’ head coaching job. “I was the one, obviously, they consulted,” Rivers said. “They made calls and I was one of the guys who said it would be a great deal for them because I thought he fit them better than he would fit the Sixers team. I think he’s a perfect fit there. It’s a league. We talk. They just talked, asked questions, and I was on board early.”
  • Speaking of Harden, Mark Medina of describes how the Clippers guard has made changes to his game to fit in with his current teammates. That includes his mindset on the offensive end. “My job for this team is to touch the paint and get the shot, make the shot and make the game a lot easier for teammates,” Harden said. “Whether I have my step-back going or getting to the paint, I’m going to make a play for a teammate.”

Rivers: Bucks’ Job Has Been “Probably More Difficult Than I Thought”

Since Doc Rivers coached his first game for the Bucks nearly three weeks ago, a Milwaukee team that opened the season by winning 32 of its first 46 games has gone just 3-7. While that stretch includes losses to some of the NBA’s top teams – including Minnesota and Denver – Rivers’ club also dropped games in Portland and Memphis.

“It’s been probably more difficult than I thought,” Rivers admitted on All-Star Saturday, according to Yaron Weitzman of FOX Sports.

The Bucks announced on January 23 that they had parted ways with previous head coach Adrian Griffin, then formally confirmed the hiring of Rivers three days later. Assistant Joe Prunty served as the interim coach for three games after Griffin’s departure, but Rivers was on the Bucks’ bench by Jan. 29, less than a week after Griffin’s dismissal, as the Bucks began a five-game Western Conference road trip.

“Taking a job when you’re about to go on the toughest road trip of the season is not the smartest decision,” Rivers said. “I even told them that: ‘Can we wait ‘til All-Star break?’ You know, it would have been a lot nicer.

“… The end game is what we’re playing for, and the organization felt strongly that a change needed to be made defensively and things like that, and that’s what we’re doing. The problem is, while you’re doing that, you’re in the middle of the season on the toughest trip. … I’ve been in Milwaukee (for) four days. I’ve had the job for three weeks.” 

As Rivers alluded to, the Bucks’ defensive struggles under Griffin were one reason the team decided to make a change, and Milwaukee’s defense has technically improved since Rivers took over. The team has allowed 113.6 per 100 possessions over its last 10 games, compared to 116.8 under Griffin, Weitzman notes. But the club’s offensive production has fallen off significantly during the same stretch, with its offensive rating diving from 120.6 under Griffin to 111.9 under Rivers.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted that the team’s frequent coaching changes over the past year – from Mike Budenholzer to Griffin to Prunty to Rivers – have been “draining,” with Milwaukee’s players being asked to constantly adjust to new philosophies and game plans. However, he expressed faith in Rivers on Saturday, per Weitzman.

“I love working with Coach Doc. He’s been very, very successful,” Antetokounmpo said. “We can talk all day about things he’s accomplished around the league. He’s won, I think, 1,100 NBA games. Some people have never played 1,100 games. Yeah, he brings that level of — how can I say? A championship level to the team. He won. He’s coached a lot of successful teams in the past.”

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Dame, Rivers, Grousbeck

After dropping Thursday’s national TV game against the injury-riddled Grizzlies, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo called out his team’s effort and desire to win, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. While Milwaukee is currently 35-21, the No. 3 seed in the East, the Bucks are just 3-7 under new head coach Doc Rivers, Nehm notes.

We have to want it, man,” Antetokounmpo said. “Like enough with the talking. Enough with the, ‘our s–t don’t stink’ mentality. Do we really want it? Are we putting in the work? Are we going to put in the effort? Are we going to fight for what we think that we deserve or what our goals are trying to accomplish? That is the most important thing.

Guys are tired, that’s an excuse. New coach, excuse. New system, excuse. New defense, excuse. All of it, it’s excuse. At the end of the day, you’re going to go out there and try to play basketball, try to compete and they competed harder than us today. They competed harder than us two days ago. We are not on track of what we are trying to do and I feel like the team feels it. The team feels it. I feel it.

As for Rivers, the longtime veteran coach said some of his players’ minds may have been elsewhere in the final game before the All-Star break.

It just told us where we are at,” Rivers said of the open to the third quarter. “The first play, we gambled for the 50th time in the corner, guy drives, we have to help, leads to a 3. We come back. On our set, two guys forget what we’re running. Then we missed a shot, and then nobody gets back. That’s how we start out the third quarter. That tells you all you need to know about where our heads were.

We had some guys here and we had some guys in Cabo.”

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Antetokounmpo may not have shown any obvious signs of the injury on Thursday after scoring 35 points on 15-of-17 shooting in 37 minutes, but he continues to deal with patellar tendinitis in his right knee, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription required). The two-time MVP was initially listed as probable on the injury report but was downgraded to questionable before eventually suiting up. Antetokounmpo has missed just two games this season, and none since the injury popped up a couple weeks ago, Owczarski adds.
  • In an interview with Katie Heindl of UPROXX, Antetokounmpo suggested the Bucks have done a good job ensuring Damian Lillard feels comfortable in Milwaukee. The All-Star guard had spent his entire career with Portland before being traded to the Bucks shortly before the season began. “We had to make him feel as comfortable as possible on the basketball court, but also off the court. It’s hard. We knew it would be hard for him. I think everybody, the team, did a good job,” Antetokounmpo said. “We supported him, and now he feels comfortable. So, our goal stays the same: to be the last team standing.”
  • Before making their mid-season hiring of Rivers, the Bucks called Wyc Grousbeck for feedback on his former coach, the Celtics co-owner revealed on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” “I love Doc,” Grousbeck said, per Souichi Terada of “I got a reference call on Doc from the Bucks. Truthfully, I made a truthful statement, of course. I said we would not have won it in 2008 without Doc. He took that team, molded it together and led the way. He had a ton to do with the championship, and he’s always going to be very special. Very special friend of mine.”

Central Notes: Fournier, Grimes, Bucks, Carter

Evan Fournier is glad for the change of scenery, even though he isn’t sure whether he’ll have a role with the Pistons. Fournier was languishing on the Knicks‘ bench before getting dealt to Detroit a week ago.

“I’m really excited to finally be out of New York,” he said (video link from James Edwards III of The Athletic). “As soon as I got traded they called me and said they’ve been trying to have me for the last couple of seasons now, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

Fournier’s contract includes a $19MM club option for next season, which almost certainly will be declined. He hopes to show what he has to offer before the end of this season.

“I don’t know what my role is, but I’m just going to be myself and prepare as if I’m going to play,” he said. “I have to get to know the guys still, but if I can help them with what I see then I’ll gladly do it.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • There’s little doubt that Quentin Grimes, who was also included in the same trade, will have a rotation role with the Pistons, though he’s dealing with a knee sprain and won’t make his Detroit debut until after the All-Star break. “I’ve always felt like he’s one of those guys who’s trying to find that consistent path, but he has a skill set and body type that fits the way we want to play,” coach Monty Williams said, per Mike Curtis of the Detroit News. “He can shoot the ball. He’s got a big body, so defensively, he can switch and guard the way that we like to. I think there’s a lot more in his game. We want to try to figure that out.”
  • The Bucks defeated the Nuggets 112-95 on Monday, marking the second consecutive game they have held an opponent under 100 points. It’s the first time the Bucks have pulled that off in the regular season since November 2021. Giannis Antetokounmpo said the coaching change from Adrian Griffin to Doc Rivers has made a difference. “Coach Doc is holding us to a high standard,” the Bucks superstar said. “He wants us to defend. He doesn’t take lack of effort as an excuse. If you’re on the floor, you’ve got to do your best.”
  • The Bulls signed guard Jevon Carter to a three-year, $19.5MM contract last summer but he’s played a much smaller role than anticipated, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. “They don’t really have too much to say about it,” Carter said of the coaching staff’s reasons for not playing him more often. “It’s just the NBA. That’s how it goes. All I can do is keep working and be ready for whenever my name is called. And that’s what I’m going to do.” Carter has appeared in 51 games off the bench, averaging 13.8 minutes per night. He averaged 22.4 MPG while playing 81 regular season games with Milwaukee last season.

Doc Rivers To Coach In All-Star Game

Five days after returning to the NBA sidelines, Doc Rivers has clinched a spot as the Eastern Conference coach in the All-Star Game, the league announced (via Twitter).

Rivers and his staff wrapped up the honor tonight when the Bucks overcame a 25-point deficit to win in Dallas and the Knicks lost at home to the Lakers. That ensures Milwaukee will have the best record in the East on Sunday’s cutoff date among teams with eligible coaches. The Celtics lead the conference at 37-12, but Joe Mazzulla took part in the 2023 game and coaches aren’t permitted to participate in back-to-back years.

This will be the fourth All-Star Game for Rivers, who also coached in 2008, 2011 and 2021, but he was reluctant to accept it under the circumstances, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link). Stein said Rivers told him before tonight’s contest that he doesn’t think he deserves to take part after just three games with the Bucks, but the NBA overruled him. Rivers plans to give his All-Star ring and bonus to former Bucks coach Adrian Griffin, who was fired on January 23, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

After picking up his first win with Milwaukee tonight, Rivers commented on the All-Star situation, saying, “That is so ridiculously bad.” He also joked about sending his coaching staff to the game and going on vacation (video link).

This year’s game will take place February 18 in Indianapolis. The format is reverting to an East-West matchup after six years of having team captains select the rosters.