PHOENIX SUNS

Reports: Doc Rivers to replace Adrian Griffin as Milwaukee Bucks coach

Jan 24, 2024, 11:16 AM

Doc Rivers, Suns head coaching candidates...

Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half of Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at Barclays Center on April 20, 2023 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Doc Rivers is finalizing a deal to take over as the Milwaukee Bucks coach a day after the firing of Adrian Griffin, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Rivers and the Bucks were still negotiating on Wednesday, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no contract had been completed.

ESPN, where Rivers has worked this season an analyst, reported that Rivers has agreed to a deal in principle. ESPN’s public relations department released a statement on social media from head of event and studio production David Roberts saying, “We wish Doc well and we look forward to documenting the next chapter of his coaching career.”

Interim coach Joe Prunty will coach the Bucks on Wednesday night when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Why did Milwaukee Bucks fire Adrian Griffin, leading to hire of Doc Rivers?

The Bucks fired Griffin on Tuesday despite owning a 30-13 record that matches the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves for the second-best mark in the league. Milwaukee is 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings.

Griffin had never been a head coach until the Bucks hired him last summer, though he had spent 16 years as an assist. The Bucks would be replacing him with someone who has nearly a quarter-century of head coaching experience.

Rivers has plenty of Milwaukee ties, as he played for Marquette from 1980-83 and his No. 31 jersey hangs from the Fiserv Forum rafters. He also has a championship background after leading the Boston Celtics to a title in 2008 and a Game 7 Finals appearance two years later.

He didn’t have as much postseason success in later stints with the Los Angeles Clippers (2013-20) and Philadelphia 76ers (2020-23). The 76ers fired him last year after they exited in the second round of the playoffs each of his three seasons in Philadelphia.

Rivers owns a 1,097-763 regular-season record and 111-104 playoff mark in 24 seasons with the Orlando Magic (1999-2004), Celtics (2004-13), Clippers and 76ers.

His 1,097 regular-season wins put him one shy of Larry Brown for eighth most in NBA history.

Rivers’ task at Milwaukee would be to upgrade a defense that performed poorly enough under Griffin to cast doubt on the Bucks’ chances of seriously contending for a title. The Bucks rank 21st in defensive rating, down from fourth last season.

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