By Charles Collier
Most sports experts and Bucks fans were shocked by the firing of Adrian Griffin. Hall of Famer Magic Johnson weighed in after the firing of Adrian Griffin. “I think the Bucks firing former Head Coach Adrian Griffin was a huge mistake. It’s not his fault the Bucks traded their best on-ball defender, Jrue Holiday. They are not a good defensive team and are all-around too slow.” There is a lot of truth to Magic’s statement, however; Griffin had his doubters. I opine, it was a bad fit from the start. Griffin appeared to have a problem getting along with others. It was obvious after a public dispute with Terry Stotts. Per the Athletic, Griffin asked the coaches to meet by themselves while players did individual shooting. Stotts began speaking with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard first, and when he asked for more time with the stars, Griffin yelled at him in front of the whole team. Terry Stotts resigned 5 days before the start of the season and two-days after the argument. Griffin hired Trevor Gleeson to replace Stotts. Many believe Griffin should have hired a veteran coach with head coaching experience. Former Memphis Grizzles coach Lionel Hollis, who won a championship with the Portland Trail Blazers would have made a great assistant coach to the young Griffin.
To Griffin’s defense, he was hired to coach a team that included Giannis, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. On October 12, 2024, the Bucks traded for Damian Lillard in a deal that sent All-Star guard and great perimeter defender Jrue Holiday to the Trail Blazers. The Blazers later traded Holiday to the Bucks’ arch nemesis Boston Celtics. Holiday was a huge upgrade over Marcus Smart and made Boston odds-on favorites to win a championship. The trade for Lillard filled a void for the Bucks, they finally had a star who could close games for them. It created a huge hole defensively for them, they now were slower and lacked an athletic defensive perimeter player. The trade was approximately two weeks before the start of the Bucks’ season and gave Griffin little time to prepare the team before the Bucks’ opener, On 10/26/2023.
The Bucks never really adjusted defensively to the loss of Holiday. They are currently near the bottom in defensive rankings, they are ranked 25th out 30 teams. The Buck defensive ranking was fourth last year with Holiday on the team.
Griffin’s relationship with his players continued to deteriorate. He argued with Giannis on two separate occasions during games and apparently had a heated locker room argument with Bobby Portis. On January 7, 2024, the Bucks lost to the Houston Rockets. After the loss, Giannis was very frustrated. “Offensive is gonna be there nights, and, some nights it’s not going to be there,” Antetokounmpo explained. “Your defensive effort though has got to be there. And defensively, our effort was not there. There was no pride.” It was apparent that Giannis had lost faith in Griffin and the handwriting was on the wall. Fifteen days after Giannis’ comments, Griffin was abruptly fired.
According to The Athletic, The Associated Press, and other media outlets, the Milwaukee Bucks intend to hire Doc Rivers as their next head coach. Time will tell if Doc is the coach that will get the Bucks back the to NBA finals.