Why did the Bucks fire Adrian Griffin? Milwaukee head coach out after just 43 games

The Bucks have fired head coach Adrian Griffin after just 43 games, the team announced on Tuesday.

Griffin was in his first season as head coach in Milwaukee and led the Bucks to a 30-13 record, good for second-best in the NBA. He faced enormous championship expectations once Milwaukee traded three first-round picks and a handful of players to pair superstar guard Damian Lillard with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Apparently, with those expectations came a short leash.

For more on the Bucks firing head coach Griffin, The Sporting News has you covered below.

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Why did the Bucks fire Adrian Griffin?

In his first year as a head coach, Griffin has been fired just 43 games into the 2023-24 season.

“This was a difficult decision to make during the season. We are working immediately toward hiring our next head coach. We thank Coach Griffin for his hard work and contributions to the team,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said in the official release.

While this does come as a surprise with the Bucks owning a 30-13 record — good for second-best in the East and tied for second-best in the NBA — there have been multiple reports on a disconnect between Griffin, his staff and the players throughout the season.

The first sign of turmoil came before opening night when assistant coach Terry Stotts stepped down from his role after he and Griffin reportedly got into a verbal altercation at the team’s shootaround.

There was another moment back in December when veteran forward Bobby Portis reportedly “challenged” Griffin following a loss to the Pacers in the In-Season Tournament, and franchise player Antetokounmpo backed his teammate in his postgame press conference.

“We have to be more organized. We have to know what we are trying to get down the stretch. You know, at the end of the day, like down the stretch, it’s about effort, man,” Antetokounmpo said after the loss. “We have to be better down the stretch. Like we’ve got to know what we’re trying to accomplish down the stretch. I feel like sometimes we weren’t on the same page, and it cost us.”

On the heels of Griffin’s dismissal, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported that “there have been steady rumblings for weeks in NBA circles that several Bucks veterans, including Giannis, had lost faith in Griffin.”

The Athletic’s most recent report said, “The issues plaguing Griffin’s early tenure ranged from putting together strong schemes on both ends of the floor for the Bucks to fulfill their championship potential to successfully communicating his vision to his players for them to execute it on the floor.

“But the bottom line, given the high stakes of this Bucks era, the concern over Griffin’s ability became a question too big for the Bucks’ executive leadership to withstand any longer.”

Griffin spent 15 years as an assistant coach before earning the big role with the Bucks, winning an NBA title with the Raptors in 2019.

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Who will replace Adrian Griffin as head coach?

The Bucks will turn to assistant coach Joe Prunty in an interim head coaching role until an in-season change is made.

According to multiple sources, former NBA champion head coach Doc Rivers is at the top of the list for Milwaukee as it looks to remain firm in its pursuit of another Larry O’Brien trophy. The Athletic went as far as to say the Bucks have “started discussions with Rivers to become the new head coach of the franchise.”

With Rivers as the clear priority, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added “the Bucks are planning to quickly pursue a small pool of accomplished and available veteran head coaches.”

The Athletic reported Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, who was runner-up to Griffin in the Bucks’ head coaching search over the summer, is also a candidate for the job.

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