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Milwaukee Bucks GM says coach was fired to ‘maximize’ team’s talent

Management declines to comment on reports they will hire veteran coach Doc Rivers

Bucks General Manager Jon Horst talks to the press.
Bucks General Manager Jon Horst talks to the press. (Evan Casey/WPR)

Before the start of the season, the Milwaukee Bucks had high hopes for first-time head coach Adrian Griffin. Now team management is offering few details on why those hopes soured just 43 games into the season.

Bucks General Manager Jon Horst spoke to reporters at a press conference Wednesday, the day after news of Griffin’s firing broke. He said he stands by the decision.

“We feel like we can maximize the talent of this group better if we made a change, that’s why we made it,” he said.

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Horst said the team wouldn’t comment on reports that they were finalizing a deal to replace Griffin with veteran coach Doc Rivers.

“We’re not going to talk about Doc tonight,” Horst said. 

Horst did say there wasn’t one “specific instance”  that led to Griffin’s firing, but reports have been swirling for weeks about a rift between players and the coach. Even so, Griffin led the team to a 30-13 record, the second best record in the Eastern Conference. But the Bucks have also struggled defensively all season.

“Adrian Griffin did a hell of a job, he’s an incredible person, I believe he’s going to be a very good coach going forward,” Horst said. “This was a chance for us to resource our team in a different way after a change from when we hired him and that’s why we did it.” 

Horst also said it wasn’t about what Griffin “did or didn’t do.” During the press conference, he had optimism that the team would be able to make another deep playoff run this year despite the coaching change.

Griffin, 49, had coached in the NBA for 16 years as an assistant. With the acquisition of superstar Damian Lillard, the team predicted a strong season. But worries began before the season even started after the sudden departure of assistant coach Terry Stotts.

Now, interim head coach Joe Prunty will take over the team. But it’s unclear how long he’ll be in that role. ESPN reported that Rivers, who played college basketball at Marquette University, has “reached an agreement in principle” with the Bucks.

Rivers led the Boston Celtics to an NBA championship in 2008. He was fired by the Philadelphia 76ers last season after the team failed to make the NBA Finals. 

The Bucks’ have struggled to recreate the magic of their 2021 championship run. Last season, the team fired former coach Mike Budenholzer after the team’s first-round playoff exit after owning the NBA’s best record.

Tim Braden, a fan from Cudahy, goes to around 25 games a year. He even goes to the airport to send the team off during road trips. He said he wasn’t surprised at the firing when he heard the news. 

“It’s who they’ve lost to and how,” Braden said. 

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