The Milwaukee Bucks have fired coach Jason Kidd, the team announced on Wednesday.
Kidd compiled a 139-152 record in three-plus seasons in Milwaukee, leading the Bucks to a pair of first-round playoff exits in 2015 and 2017. The Bucks currently own a 23-22 record, just a game up on the Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference — well below expectations, given Giannis Antetokounmpo’s emergence as an All-Star starter and MVP candidate.
Bucks assistant Joe Prunty will serve as interim coach, beginning with their game against the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. Prunty previously served as an assistant on the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets, winning a pair of titles with the Spurs in 2003 and 2005. He also served as head coach of the British national team from 2013-17.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news, which reportedly surprised Kidd and Antetokounmpo.
Sources: Jason Kidd hasn’t been officially told yet. Giannis Antetokounmpo is devastated. https://t.co/FGaqQybJtn
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 22, 2018
Kidd spent his first season after retiring as a player from the NBA as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets before a messy divorce landed him in Milwaukee in 2014. After making a power play for the president of basketball operations position in Brooklyn, Kidd came under fire for interviewing for the Bucks’ coaching job while Larry Drew still held the position. The news also came as a surprise then to Drew.
Milwaukee sent Brooklyn two second-round picks in exchange for letting Kidd out of the final two years of his coaching deal. The Nets reacquired their own 2015 second-round pick, which they used in a deal to get Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s rights, and also picked up Milwaukee’s 2019 second-rounder.
Following a loss to the Miami Heat last week, Kidd criticized his team for playing “selfish” and “bad basketball,” suggesting that the team’s struggles are a result of the team’s youth and inexperience.
“There’s no coaching, there’s nothing that you can do but go through it and learn,” he said after their third loss in four games, “and we can keep telling them what’s coming as a coach and we can tell them what to do, but it’s up to them to make that decision, and right now we have a hard time doing that. …
“I’ve said it all year, and I’m going to keep saying it: We are young, and you’re going to have to keep talking to them to get through it. And until it clicks that they need each other, then this is who we’re going to be. We’re going to be a team that wins two and loses two. So, we’ve got a long ways to go.”
Surely, new Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst, who took over the position at age 34 from longtime GM John Hammond this past summer, will now be looking for a coach who is more confident in his or her ability to get through to a young Bucks squad that is expected to become a contender in the East.
And there are few more attractive jobs than Milwaukee, where Antetokounmpo is a generational talent improving in each of his first five seasons. The Bucks also acquired talented point guard Eric Bledsoe this season to pair with a talented young core that expects to add Jabari Parker by the All-Star break.
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