“There’s been a lot of expectations on our team,” Lillard said. “Things have been expected to look a certain way. We’ve had a bumpy road to our success, which is sometimes a part of the process. I was surprised. But it’s part of the game. People get traded, people get waived, people get fired, and that’s never something you want to see.”
January 26: Rivers has officially been announced as new head coach of the Bucks, the team announced (via Twitter).
January 24: The Bucks are hiring Doc Rivers as their next head coach, according to reports from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT (Twitter links). The two sides have reached an agreement in principle, per Wojnarowski.
Griffin had led Milwaukee to a 30-13 record, tied for the second-best mark in the league, but there were questions about his schemes on both ends of the court and his ability to connect with the Bucks players. The franchise felt that replacing Griffin with a veteran head coach would improve the Bucks’ title chances, sources tell Wojnarowski.
Rivers reportedly served as an informal consultant of sorts for Griffin, at the behest of the Bucks, beginning last month. He immediately emerged as the team’s top choice once the head coaching position opened up on Tuesday.
Rivers, 62, has enjoyed a long head coaching career that includes stints with the Magic, Celtics, Clippers, and Sixers. He has a 1,097-763 (.590) regular season record and a 111-104 (.516) mark in the postseason, including a championship with Boston in 2008.
While Rivers has long been considered one of the NBA’s top head coaches, his playoff track record has been spotty since that ’08 title with the Celtics. His teams made the postseason in 15 of the 16 subsequent seasons, but advanced beyond the second round just twice during that time. Rivers was let go by Philadelphia last spring following a third consecutive second-round exit.
Rivers joined ESPN as an analyst following his stint with the Sixers, but will step away from that job in order to attempt to lead Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks to their second championship in the past four seasons.
The terms of Rivers’ contract with the Bucks aren’t yet known, but it’s expected to be a “very lucrative” deal, sources tell Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link). As Mannix observes, Milwaukee is now dedicating a significant chunk of money to the head coaching position, since the team is still paying both Griffin and former coach Mike Budenholzer.
It’s unclear how soon Rivers will be on the sidelines in Milwaukee. The Bucks host the Cavaliers on Wednesday night and again on Friday, then play one more home game vs. New Orleans on Saturday before heading out on a five-game road trip — assistant Joe Prunty will serve as the interim head coach until Rivers arrives.