Best Bucks coaching candidates to replace fired Adrian Griffin, from Doc Rivers to Kenny Atkinson

Less than one season in, Adrian Griffin’s time on the sideline as Milwaukee’s head coach has come to an end.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Bucks would be firing Griffin, who had led the team to a 30-13 record in his first-ever season as an NBA head coach.

Shortly after reporting the news, Wojnarowski added that “the Bucks are planning to quickly pursue a small pool of accomplished and available veteran head coaches.” Reports from Wojnarowski, TNT Sports’ Chris Haynes and The Athletic’s Shams Charania all suggest that decorated head coach and current ESPN analyst Doc Rivers is emerging as a priority candidate.

Who else could Milwaukee prioritize to take over a team led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard? Here are a few candidates to assume a veteran-laden roster with serious title aspirations.

MORE: Why Bucks fired coach Adrian Griffin after 43 games

Bucks coaching candidates for 2024

Doc Rivers

Regular season record: 1,097-763 (.590)

Playoff record: 111-104 (.516)

Rivers joined ESPN’s broadcast booth ahead of the 2023-24 season. Before getting back to broadcasting, Rivers spent the previous three seasons leading the 76ers, who were unable to get over the hump to compete for a title.

Rivers, 62, is from nearby Chicago and played collegiately in Milwaukee at Marquette University. With him, he brings 24 seasons of coaching experience and over 1,000 wins.

Given his standing as a veteran championship coach, it makes sense that Rivers jumps to the front of the line for Milwaukee.

Terry Stotts

Regular season record: 517-486 (.515)

Playoff record: 23-44 (.343)

Stotts has been linked to a few coaching vacancies since parting ways with the Trail Blazers in 2021. He was hired as an assistant on Griffin’s Bucks staff in 2023 but resigned from his post before the season got underway.

There is a sense of familiarity with Stotts and this roster and, more specifically, Lillard, with whom he established a serious connection during their nine seasons together in Portland. Stotts also was the Bucks head coach from 2005 to 2007.

James Borrego

Regular season record: 148-183 (.447)

Playoff record: 0-0

Borrego is back in the coaching ranks after he was fired by the Hornets in 2022 and took a step back from the game during the 2022-23 season. Borrego is now an assistant coach in New Orleans and has been credited with revamping the team’s offense to feature the triumvirate of Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson.

While Borrego has not led a team to the playoffs as a head coach, he has over four seasons of head coaching experience. As an assistant, he has worked with a list of stars that includes Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul. He interviewed with the Bucks during the 2023 offseason.

MORE: Which team won the Terry Rozier-Kyle Lowry trade?

Kenny Atkinson

Regular season record: 118-190 (.383)

Playoff record: 1-4 (.200)

Atkinson has just under four seasons of head coaching experience under his belt. After Milwaukee fired Mike Budenholzer in 2023, Atkinson was one of a few candidates to interview for the Bucks’ vacancy.

Atkinson is currently on Steve Kerr’s staff with the Warriors but being hired away midseason would not be unprecedented. As Milwaukee looks to capitalize on its championship window, it may not waste any time in getting a candidate like Atkinson if the front office views him as the best option.

Mark Jackson

Regular season record: 121-109 (.526)

Playoff record: 9-10 (.474)

It’s been nine seasons since Jackson last coached an NBA game, but he continues to get interviews for openings, including Milwaukee’s vacancy this past offseason.

Jackson is a veteran player, coach and analyst who has a great feel for the game given his history. Because of his knowledge of the game, the nine-year gap won’t feel so large.

Mike Budenholzer

Regular season record: 484-317 (.604)

Playoff record: 56-48 (.538)

Budenholzer is just two and a half years removed from leading the Bucks to a title. Just last season, he led the team to the NBA’s best record.

Perhaps both sides realize that the decision to part ways following a first-round exit (to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Heat) might have been an overreaction. Pride could very well get in the way but Budenholzer does fit the description and would ease the learning curve immensely.


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