After firing Adrian Griffin, the Milwaukee Bucks have reached out to Doc Rivers and are engaging him in conversations regarding the franchise’s head-coaching job, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.
Rivers — an ESPN NBA analyst who led the Philadelphia 76ers to three consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference semifinals before exiting last spring — is the top target of the Bucks’ search to replace Griffin, sources said.
Joe Prunty was promoted to interim coach, a role he’s assuming for the third time in his coaching career — including with the Bucks following the firing of Jason Kidd in 2018.
Despite the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks dismissed Griffin only 43 matches into his head-coaching career, largely because the organization came to believe it could find an upgrade on the young coach who would give the team a better opportunity to compete for a championship, sources said.
Griffin had a 30-13 (.698) record, but the Bucks had dropped from fourth to 22nd in defensive efficiency from a season ago, although some of that can be attributed to the loss of All-Star guard Jrue Holiday.
Under immense expectations, Griffin was hired to replace Mike Budenholzer in June and tasked with incorporating his own system into a veteran star team.
Bucks general manager Jon Horst believes Griffin will develop into a very good NBA head coach but lost confidence that he could do it within the timeline of the Bucks’ immediate championship window, sources said.
The Bucks are setting their sights on an accomplished veteran coach, and Rivers’ 25 years of head-coaching experience — including a championship with Boston in 2008 — helped identify him to the franchise as the top available coach, sources said.
Rivers, 62, was an All-American at Marquette University in Milwaukee.