The Milwaukee Bucks are hiring longtime coach Doc Rivers, NFL sources said Wednesday, one day after the team fired first-year coach Adrian Griffin.
Rivers, 62, began serving as an informal adviser to Griffin in December at the request of the Bucks. The team moved quickly to agree to a deal with Rivers after moving on from Griffin after just 43 games.
With a 30-13 record and two star talents in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, the Bucks are still in the middle of a season that the organization believes can end in a championship. With that in mind, Milwaukee GM Jon Horst needed to find a replacement for Griffin that could keep the team moving toward its goal.
Ideally, the Bucks will find someone with extensive coaching experience, a championship pedigree and enough charisma to coach the superstar talent to take over for Griffin's first-time head coaching position. With 24 seasons of coaching experience and a 2008 NBA championship with the Boston Celtics, Rivers ticked all the boxes and Milwaukee was brave in pursuing him as their coach.
Rivers, who previously coached the Orlando Magic, Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers, has not had a losing year since 2007. His streak is the fourth-best in league history behind NBA greats Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson and Pat Riley. .
Rivers holds a 1,097-763 record during his 24 seasons as coach, and has only missed the playoffs five times. He signed with ESPN as a lead commentator alongside Doris Burke and Mike Breen in July 2023 after a three-year stint with the 76ers from 2020 to 2023. He won the NBA Coach of the Year award in 2000 with the Magic.
Rivers was selected in the second round of the 1983 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He played the first eight seasons of his 13-year NBA career in Atlanta and is the team's all-time leader with 3,866 assists. Rivers has 4,889 regular season assists during his career.
He also played one season with the Clippers, one season with the New York Knicks and two seasons with the San Antonio Spurs to round out his time in the NBA.
The Bucks job is a homecoming for Rivers, who graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee. Rivers, a Chicago native, played three seasons at Marquette from 1980 to 1983 and retired from the university in 2004.
Why move from Griffin?
While the Bucks have compiled a 30-13 record in their first 43 games this season, they have not shown enough growth as the season reaches the midway point. While they managed a 6-5 record in January under Griffin, Milwaukee had a rough start to the new year defensively, giving up 122.1 points per 100 possessions. Instead of showing signs of growth while trying new ideas defensively, the Bucks have been regressing and having their worst defensive month of the season.
On the other side of the floor, the results have been much better as Milwaukee currently ranks second in offensive rating, scoring 120.5 points per 100 possessions, but the offense has not looked cohesive to this point. Instead of creating an offensive attack that maximized the skills of Antetokounmpo and Lillard, the team's two star duo ended up rotating on the offensive side.
It has been successful because of the team's incredible offensive talent, but the offense still has great potential to do more.
(Photo: Rick Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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