Giannis Antetokounmpo

Bucks Plan To Hire Adrian Griffin As Head Coach

The Bucks intend to hire Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin as their next head coach, reports Adrian Wonjarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). According to Wojnarowski, the two sides are in the process of finalizing a contract agreement.

Griffin, one of three reported finalists for the open coaching position in Milwaukee, was the only one without any previous head coaching experience.

Kenny Atkinson and Nick Nurse were also said to be in the running, though Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets that the Bucks ultimately decided between Griffin and Atkinson after Nurse pulled out of the process.

An NBA player from 1999-2008, Griffin transitioned to coaching after his retirement and has been an assistant on NBA staffs for the last 15 years. He actually began his coaching career with the Bucks from 2008-10 before moving on to Chicago (2010-15), Orlando (2015-16), and Oklahoma City (2016-18). He has spent the last five years as an assistant on Nurse’s staff in Toronto.

Griffin has received head coaching consideration from multiple clubs in recent years, including the Pistons, Raptors, and Rockets this spring. He filled in as Toronto’s head coach on an interim basis in February while Nurse was away from the team for family reasons and spoke about how the experience was “good practice” for his goal of eventually getting his own team.

Griffin was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife on social media in 2020, but vehemently denied those allegations and never faced criminal charges. He later filed a defamation suit in response.

Milwaukee launched a head coaching search after dismissing Mike Budenholzer in early May. Budenholzer earned Coach of the Year honors in 2019, won a championship in 2021, and led the team to an NBA-best 58-24 record in 2022/23. However, the top-seeded Bucks were quickly eliminated from the playoffs in embarrassing fashion by the No. 8 Heat, resulting in Budenholzer’s ouster.

The Bucks reportedly interviewed at least a dozen candidates before narrowing their focus to their three finalists. According to Charania, the second round of their search included meetings with star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was previously said to be “intrigued” by Griffin and endorsed the hiring.

The finalists met with Antetokounmpo on Tuesday, then with Bucks ownership on Wednesday, per Charania. On Thursday, general manager Jon Horst held a meeting to discussion the decision — that meeting included ownership, and Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton were invited to attend, a league source tells The Athletic.

Nurse’s withdrawal from the process is an interesting subplot. He’s believed to be very much in the running for the head coaching vacancies in Philadelphia and Phoenix, so it’s possible he’s focused on landing one of those jobs. A report this week indicated Nurse had “strong support” from some members of the Bucks’ organization, but that support wasn’t unanimous.

The Suns, Sixers, Raptors, and Pistons remain in the market for new head coaches, with the Bucks joining the Rockets as teams that have completed coaching searches so far this spring.

Coaching Rumors: Williams, Pistons, Young, Bucks, Griffin, Mazzulla

After reporting last week that the Pistons had planned to pursue Monty Williams for their head coaching job if they’d won the draft lottery, Marc Stein writes at Substack that Detroit apparently went ahead with that plan even after slipping to No. 5 on lottery night.

League sources tell Stein that the Pistons made Williams a “big-money” offer to become the team’s new head coach. However, it appears that effort was unsuccessful. As we noted on Tuesday in response to a report that Williams might take the 2023/24 season off, he’s still reportedly owed about $21MM from Phoenix, so it’s not as if he needs another job anytime soon for financial reasons.

With Williams apparently not in play, the Pistons continue to decide between Kevin Ollie, Charles Lee, and Jarron Collins, who are reportedly meeting with team owner Tom Gores for a second time. As Stein writes, the “consistent buzz” in coaching circles is that general manager Troy Weaver prefers Ollie for the position.

Here’s more from Stein on the head coaching vacancies around the NBA:

  • While he lacks the head coaching experience that some of the Sunsother finalists possess, assistant coach Kevin Young has a legitimate chance to be promoted to succeed Williams, according to Stein, who hears that Young has received a “strong endorsement” from All-Star guard Devin Booker.
  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is expected to talk to the team’s head coaching finalists, is said to be “intrigued” by Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Stein writes. Griffin is one of three candidates believed to be in the running for the job.
  • Even before the Celtics won Game 4 of their series vs. Miami on Tuesday, there was push-back against the idea that Joe Mazzulla‘s job as head coach was in real jeopardy, says Stein. While Stein isn’t entirely ruling out the idea that Mazzulla could be replaced this spring, he suggests it would conflict with what we know about president of basketball operations Brad Stevens and how he operates.

Central Notes: Bucks’ Coaching Search, Pacers, Cheaney, Cavs

While Nick Nurse, Kenny Atkinson, and Adrian Griffin are the only finalists that have been reported so far in the Bucks‘ head coaching search, Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel hears from a source that the team could still expand that list of finalists.

For now though, Milwaukee seems to be deciding between Nurse, Atkinson, and Griffin, prompting Eric Nehm of The Athletic to consider why each coaching candidate may – or may not – be a fit for the franchise.

A league source who spoke to Owczarski (subscription required) got the sense that Bucks general manager Jon Horst prefers a coach with “a bit of edge” in terms of style. That could be a point in favor of Nurse, who gained a reputation for experimenting with unorthodox defensive styles when he took over as the head coach in Toronto. As Nehm observes, Nurse also won a championship in his first year as a head coach, a feat the Bucks are hoping their next coach will be able to replicate.

The second round of interviews for the Bucks is expected to include dialogue with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Marc Stein writes at Substack. Horst told reporters earlier this month that he expected to get input from Antetokounmpo during the team’s coaching search.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Pacers assistant Calbert Cheaney is leaving Rick Carlisle‘s staff to return to his alma mater and become the director of player development at Indiana University under Mike Woodson. Carlisle and the Pacers put out a statement thanking Cheaney for his contributions and wishing him well in his new job. The team also announced that Isaac Yacob is being promoted from head video coordinator to a player development role.
  • The Pacers, armed with five picks in this year’s draft, will almost certainly trade one or more of them, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required). With the picks they keep, the Pacers won’t be overly focused on positional fit, but likely won’t select anyone who will be a defensive liability, Dopirak adds.
  • Kelsey Russo of The Athletic considers a few options for the Cavaliers‘ pick at No. 49, identifying Marquette forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Illinois wing Terrence Shannon, and Eastern Michigan wing Emoni Bates as possible targets. Prosper, who had a strong showing at least week’s combine, may not still be available by the time Cleveland picks — he ranks No. 32 on ESPN’s big board.

Eastern Notes: Whitmore, Wizards, Pistons, Giannis, Bucks

The Wizards hold the No. 8 pick in the draft and Villanova forward Cam Whitmore wouldn’t mind being part of their future, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Whitmore, who grew up in Maryland, is projected as a top-10 selection.

“That’s home, the D.M.V. There’s nothing like playing at home. The fans, hopefully they would be excited to have me. We’ll see if they pick me,” Whitmore said.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Pistons had terrible luck at the lottery, dropping from No. 1 to No. 5. Trading the pick may be the way to go and James Edwards III of The Athletic explores that possibility. Edwards throws out a number of intriguing trade packages where the Pistons could wind up with Pascal Siakam, Keldon Johnson or RJ Barrett, or move up to the No. 3 spot in a deal with Portland.
  • Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo had some fun on social media when a Warriors fan implored him to push for a trade to Golden State. Antetokounmpo smiled and said, “Nah, I’m not that kind of guy,” JR Radcliffe of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays. The two-time MVP cannot opt out of his contract until the summer of 2025.
  • In a lengthy mailbag piece, The Athletic’s Eric Nehm writes in-depth about the Bucks’ coaching opening and why the organization parted ways with Mike Budenholzer. Nehm believes the next coach needs to have a solid plan about improving the Bucks’ half-court offense.

Bucks Notes: Griffin, Coach Search, Giannis, Budenholzer, More

The Bucks have been granted permission to interview Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin for their head coaching vacancy, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

After a nine-year NBA career, Griffin quickly made the transition to coaching. He actually got his start as an assistant with Milwaukee back in 2008/09, Wojnarowski notes.

Griffin has also been an assistant with Chicago, Orlando, Oklahoma City. He has been with Toronto since ’18/19.

The 48-year-old 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 now the Bucks. Griffin just completed his 15th season as an assistant.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • While general manager Jon Horst has shown an openness to interviewing a wide range of candidates, the fact that he went with an experienced head coach who’d had previous success during Milwaukee’s coaching search in 2018 might inform how he’ll approach the process this time around, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Horst has stated that expectations are much higher now than five years ago, so he will likely once again value experience and winning, Nehm notes.
  • Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo took to Instagram to thank former head coach Mike Budenholzer, posting photos of the two embracing after winning the championship in 2021, according to Jamal Collier of ESPN. “Thank you for five meaningful years Coach,” Antetokounmpo wrote. “We accomplished something unbelievable and I’m forever grateful.”
  • Antetokounmpo had been named to the All-Defensive First Team for four straight seasons prior to ’22/23, but despite finishing sixth in Defensive Player of the Year voting, he didn’t make either of the two All-Defensive teams this season. He took to social media again to voice his apparent displeasure at the snub, per Christopher Kuhagen of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m tired of the disrespect. I’m coming,” the former Defensive Player of the Year wrote.
  • Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently joined Michael Scotto on the HoopsHype podcast to discuss the Bucks’ coaching search, possible offseason moves, how the new CBA will affect the team, and more.

NBA Announces 2022/23 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-NBA teams for the 2022/23 season.

A total of 100 media members vote on the All-NBA awards. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for Second Team, and one point for Third Team, for a maximum total of 500 points. This year’s three All-NBA teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Third Team

A total of 37 players received at least one vote, per the NBA. The top vote-getters who wound up missing out on All-NBA spots were Lakers center Anthony Davis (65), Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (49) and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (44).

Morant had Rose Rule language in his rookie scale extension, meaning his five-year deal would have started at 30% of next season’s cap had he been voted in; instead, he’ll receive 25% of the cap, which is projected to be a difference of about $39MM across five seasons.

Other players receiving 20-plus points include Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (39), Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) and Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (23). The next three highest were Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (15), Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (15) and Anthony Edwards of the Timberwolves (14), who is listed under forward but spent most of the season at shooting guard.

As we noted earlier today, both of the Celtics’ top two players will now be eligible for Designated Veteran Extensions, also known as the super-max: Brown will be eligible to sign a five-year extension this offseason that starts at up to 35% of the 2024/25 salary cap, while Tatum will be eligible to sign a super-max extension in 2024 after earning All-NBA nods each of the past two seasons.

Like Brown, Siakam would have been eligible for a super-max extension this summer had he made an All-NBA team. He finished a distant ninth, so his maximum extension will now be worth a projected $192.2MM over four years, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Josh Lewenberg of observes (via Twitter), Siakam could still qualify for a super-max deal if he makes an All-NBA spot next season as an impending free agent.

This will be the last season under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the new CBA, All-NBA voting will be positionless and players will be required to play a minimum of 65 games to earn major regular season awards. Five of the players honored today — Antetokounmpo, Curry, Butler, Lillard and James — played fewer than 65 this season and would have been ineligible if the new requirements had been in effect, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

LeBron extended his own NBA record with his selection, earning a spot on an All-NBA team for the 19th straight season, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). No other player has more than 15 total All-NBA awards (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are tied for second at 15 apiece).

Giannis was a unanimous First Team selection for the fifth straight season, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link), and the only unanimous choice in 2022/23. Antetokounmpo now has more First Team berths than any European-born player, tweets HoopsHype, and only trails Hakeem Olajuwon among international players (six). The Bucks superstar finished third in MVP voting behind Embiid and Jokic, but Jokic received some First Team votes over the Sixers’ MVP winner, which is why Embiid wasn’t a unanimous pick.

According to HoopsHype (Twitter link), this is the first season in league history that only one American player (Tatum) was voted to the First Team. Doncic (Slovenia) and Antetokounmpo (Greece) are European, Embiid was born in Cameroon, and Gilgeous-Alexander is Canadian.

Despite earning an All-NBA nod for the first time, Mitchell wasn’t happy that he didn’t make the First Team, sending out a tweet on the matter.

NBA Announces 2022/23 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2022/23 season.

A total of 100 media members vote on the All-Defensive awards, with players receiving two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote. This year’s All-Defensive teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Unsurprisingly, Jackson – who was this season’s Defensive Player of the Year – received the most First Team votes (96) and showed up on the most overall ballots (99). Only one voter didn’t have Jackson on either All-Defensive team.

Milwaukee teammates Holiday (94) and Lopez (85) received the second- and third-most First Team votes. No other player earned more than 50.

While the Bucks have two players on the First Team, it’s a bit surprising to see former DPOY Giannis Antetokounmpo miss out altogether. Antetokounmpo earned 16 First Team votes and 28 Second Team votes for a total of 60 points, the most of any player who didn’t earn All-Defensive honors. Although he received more total points than Brooks or Adebayo, Giannis didn’t make the cut because there were four forwards with more points than him.

Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels (40 points), Celtics guard Marcus Smart (35), Nets guard Mikal Bridges (33), and Nets center Nic Claxton (25) would have joined Antetokounmpo on a hypothetical All-Defensive Third Team as the highest vote-getters who fell just short.

A total of 38 players showed up on at least one ballot — the full voting results can be viewed here.

Being named to an All-Defensive team will benefit a pair of players financially, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). White earned a $250K bonus for his Second Team nod, while Holiday will receive $129,600 for making the First Team.

Bucks Notes: Coaching Search, Giannis, Middleton, Lopez

Despite the Bucks‘ regular season success in recent years, their playoff runs – with the exception of their 2021 championship – haven’t ended the way they wanted or expected, general manager Jon Horst told reporters on Friday in explaining why the team felt the need to move on from Mike Budenholzer.

As Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays, Horst said on Friday that the Bucks’ next head coach won’t necessarily need to have championship experience – or even NBA head coaching experience – since he doesn’t yet want to “put any boxes around” what sort of candidate the team is looking for.

“That could change. This is obviously very early in what will be a thorough process. Very early in terms of time after the decision’s been made,” Horst said. “… As we dive into the process and it evolves, obviously it becomes more narrow, but at this point, everything is and should be on the table. We’re very much in a phase of gathering and collecting and who’s interested and what that very large candidate pool can be and then we’ll work from there.

Horst, who said he’ll be seeking someone with many of the same traits as Budenholzer who can unlock more of the roster’s potential, added that he likes the idea of getting feedback from Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks’ other core players before officially hiring a new head coach.

“When it comes to our guys, I really hope and expect them to have a role and a voice in the process,” he said, per Owczarski. “Their opinion matters to me. I know it matters to our ownership group. It’s something that I trust and value. So as we go through the process, I think at the right time we’ll make sure that a group of our players weigh in and partake in this in the right way and the right time.”

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Faced with a new CBA that will introduce more restrictive measures for teams well above the tax line, the Bucks are in a difficult position as they weigh what to do with Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, two important players who are in their 30s and are up for new contracts, Brian Windhorst said during a TV appearance on ESPN’s Get Up (Twitter video link). Windhorst suggests that Marc Lasry‘s decision to sell his stake in the team this year was likely related to the cap-related “quagmire” Milwaukee will face in the coming years.
  • In a subscriber-only story for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jim Owczarski examines whether the new CBA will shorten the Bucks’ championship window and digs into what the market will look like for Middleton and Lopez this offseason, assuming Middleton opts out. While rival teams will covet both players and neither will come cheap, sources tell Owczarski that Middleton won’t command a maximum-salary deal and Lopez’s age and 2021 back surgery will work against him.
  • Elsewhere at The Journal Sentinel, Owczarski identifies some head coaching candidates the Bucks could consider and breaks down contract details for every player on the roster.

Sixers Center Joel Embiid Wins First MVP Award

Joel Embiid has been named the league’s Most Valuable Player, according to the NBA (Twitter link).

The Sixers center surged during the second half of the season and topped Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who won the award the past two seasons, and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who captured the league’s most prestigious individual award in 2019 and 2020.

Embiid, the third overall pick of the 2014 draft, led Philadelphia to the Eastern Conference’s third-best record while topping the league in scoring at 33.1 points per game. He also averaged 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 66 regular-season games.

Jokic, who was considered the frontrunner a majority of the season, averaged 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and a career-best 9.8 assists in 69 games while leading Denver to the Western Conference’s top seed. Jokic’s assist average ranked fourth in the league, an unusual feat for a center.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to the league’s best record by averaging 31.1 points (fifth in the league), 11.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 63 games. Milwaukee’s superstar tied for third in the league in rebounding with Jokic.

The votes were based only on the regular season, so Milwaukee’s first-round playoff exit had no bearing on the voting.

Considering the MVP debate raged throughout the season, it was a little surprising that Embiid won by such a wide margin. He picked up 73 of the 100 first-place votes, while Jokic received 15 and Antetokounmpo got the other 12.

Overall, Embiid had 915 points with Jokic in second place (674 points) and the Bucks star in third (606). The CelticsJayson Tatum received most of the fourth-place votes and the Thunder‘s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished fifth.

Donovan Mitchell, Domantas Sabonis, Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Jimmy Butler, De’Aaron Fox, Jalen Brunson, and Ja Morant also received at least one vote apiece.

Embiid is the first Sixers player to win the award since Allen Iverson (2000-01).

NBA To Announce MVP Winner On May 2

The winner of this season’s MVP award will be revealed on “NBA on TNT” at 7:00 pm Eastern time on May 2, the league announced (via Twitter).

The race has the potential to be very close, with Sixers center Joel Embiid, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Bucks big man Giannis Antetokounmpo all having submitted strong arguments for the award. They were announced as the finalists on April 14.

Embiid is considered the favorite to win the honor after capturing his second consecutive scoring title at 33.1 PPG. He also averaged 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 blocks in 66 games.

Jokic won the last two MVP trophies, and for most of the season it seemed like he was in a good position to claim three in a row. At 24.5 PPG, his scoring average was down from the last two seasons, but he averaged 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists in 69 games while leading Denver to the top seed in the Western Conference.

Antetokounmpo, also a two-time winner, put together another strong campaign with a career-high 31.1 PPG, along with 11.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 63 games as Milwaukee posted the league’s best record. The votes were cast before the playoffs began, so the Bucks’ first-round exit won’t affect his chances.