Giannis Antetokounmpo speaks on ‘draining’ coaching carousel: Doc Rivers marks 4th coach in 6 months for Bucks

To say that the Bucks are dealing with turnover would be an understatement.

Milwaukee played an active role at the NBA trade deadline, acquiring Patrick Beverley from the 76ers while also trading Robin Lopez to the Kings. But believe it or not, it’s not the roster that has been changing rapidly over the last six months — it’s the coaching staff.

The Bucks elected to dismiss Adrian Griffin last month, just 36 games into his first season as head coach in Milwaukee. He replaced Mike Budenholzer, who was fired in the offseason after four seasons with the organization.

After Griffin’s exit, Joe Prunty served as the interim head coach for three games while the Bucks searched for a replacement. Enter Doc Rivers, who joined the team at the end of January.

At NBA All-Star Weekend, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was asked about everything that has transpired over the last six months. The two-time MVP admitted that it was “hard” dealing with the coaching carousel.

MORE: Everything you need to know about All-Star 2024

“It’s hard. It’s hard. This is my fourth coach in the span of six months,” Antetokounmpo said. “Coach (Mike Budenholzer), coach (Adrian Griffin), (interim) coach Joe (Prunty) and Doc. Different philosophy, different game plan. It’s hard. It’s draining.

“I’m a student of the game. When somebody asks me to do something, I try to do it to the best of my ability. I try to understand what we’re trying to accomplish, both so I can understand and so I can be there for my teammates when they ask questions.”

And Rivers’ tenure has been far from smooth sailing. While the Bucks remain one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference at 35-21, the team is 3-7 with Rivers on the bench, dropping from second to third in the conference and at risk of falling even further. 

Despite the recent skid, Antetokounmpo made it clear he “loves” working with Rivers and his winning mindset. 

“I love working with Coach Doc,” Antetokounmpo said. “He’s been very, very successful. We can talk all day about things he’s accomplished around the league. He’s won, I think, 1,100 NBA games. Some people have never played 1,100 games.

“He brings that level of — how can I say — a championship level to the team. He won. He’s coached a lot of successful teams in the past. When you have that guy in your bench, you have to bring your A game.”

Bucks coaching timeline with Giannis Antetokounmpo

The “Greek Freak” isn’t unknown to head coaching changes. Such is the way in today’s NBA, as just five current head coaches have been in their roles for more than five seasons.

Since he entered the league in 2013-14, Antetokounmpo has played for six different head coaches.

Larry Drew lasted just one season before he was fired after Giannis’ rookie year and replaced by Jason Kidd. The current Mavericks coach, Kidd was at the helm in Milwaukee from 2014 until he was fired part way through the 2018-19 season. Prunty finished the season as interim head coach, the first of his two brief stints in the position.

After Kidd and Prunty came the Budenholzer era. Under the mentee of the great Gregg Popovich, the Bucks won the NBA title in 2021, the franchise’s first championship since 1971. Despite a strong showing in his five seasons with the squad, Budenholzer was fired this offseason after Milwaukee’s first-round exit in the playoffs. 

MORE: A look at Doc Rivers’ coaching timeline

Coach Seasons Games Record
Larry Drew 2013-2014 82 15-67
Jason Kidd 2014-2018 291 139-152
Joe Prunty 2018 37 21-16
Mike Budenholzer 2018-2023 391 271-120
Adrian Griffin 2023 43 30-13
Joe Prunty 2024 3 2-1
Doc Rivers 2024 10 3-7

*Records as of Feb. 18, 2024.

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