Damian Lillard foreshadowed Milwaukee Bucks coaching regret before he joined

Damian Lillard criticized the Milwaukee Bucks when they fired former head coach Mike Budenholzer last year before the guard joined the franchise in a trade. The organization has now parted ways with Adrian Griffin, the man who replaced Budenholzer in a signal that Lillard’s concern was warranted.

As a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, Lillard tweeted of Budenholzer’s exit: “Folks out here firing championship coaches as soon as they don’t win the chip.” Budenholzer won an NBA title with the Bucks in 2020-21.

The Bucks dismissed coach Budenholzer one week after their surprising first-round playoff defeat to the Miami Heat last season. The rapid postseason exit tarnished a campaign in which they held the NBA’s best record. Budenholzer departed just two years after he led the Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years.

The Trail Blazers sent Lillard to the Bucks in a three-team trade last September. As part of the transaction, Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara and a 2029 first-round draft pick went to the Blazers. Grayson Allen, Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson moved to the Phoenix Suns.

The Bucks fired coach Griffin in a surprising move on Tuesday. He’d been hired this offseason to replace Budenholzer and was a former Toronto Raptors assistant.

“This was a difficult decision to make during the season,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said in a press release. “We are working immediately toward hiring our next head coach. We thank Coach Griffin for his hard work and contributions to the team.” Since the Bucks announcement, Lillard has not shared any posts on social media regarding the news. Instead, his most recent Instagram activity has focused on promoting his new music, while his x account has shown minimal activity since Jan 19.

Ex-coach Adrian Griffin of the Milwaukee Bucks looks on during a game against the Sacramento Kings
Adrian Griffin of the Milwaukee Bucks was fired with the second-best record in the NBA
ESPN reports that the Bucks are searching for a “veteran head coach” and intend to make an appointment quickly rather than prolong the coaching uncertainty. One of the potential frontrunners for this position is Doc Rivers, who has previously won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics and most recently coached the Philadelphia 76ers from 2020 to 2023.

Joe Prunty, who served as the Bucks interim coach for the final 37 regular-season games of the 2017-18 season after the dismissal of Jason Kidd, will once again assume interim coaching duties. General Manager Jon Horst is scheduled to address the media at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Bucks are scheduled to host the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7 p.m. on the same day. On the latest edition of the “#thisleague UNCUT” podcast, NBA insiders indicated that the Bucks are poised to adopt an “aggressive” approach in their organizational strategy, particularly in the trade market.

Potential targets, including Alex Caruso, Dorian Finney-Smith and Matisse Thybulle, were discussed as players who could contribute to Milwaukee’s next phase under their new head coach. The coaching change is a part of the team’s fresh approach, aligning with potential moves in free agency.

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