Bucks’ firing of Adrian Griffin stemmed partially from ‘flawed use of Damian Lillard’

The Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to fire first-year coach Adrian Griffin was the result of a number of factors that had been troubling the team for several weeks, per a report from Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Eric Nehm of The Athletic.Damian Lillard and Adrian Griffin

“It was born out of months of underwhelming play, with internal concerns growing about the severe decline of their once-elite defense, the flawed use of newcomer Damian Lillard alongside franchise centerpiece Giannis Antetokounmpo and a widespread fear that this group, which was widely expected to contend for a title, was likely to fall short if they stood pat,” Charania, Amick and Nehm wrote. “As far back as the In-Season Tournament in December, when the Bucks lost to the Pacers in Las Vegas and the internal skepticism grew regarding Griffin’s ability to lead this group, there were strong signs that a change was coming.”

Former coach Doc Rivers, currently an in-game analyst for ESPN, is the frontrunner to replace Griffin, according to multiple reports. Rivers, 62, previously coached the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.

He has an overall coaching record of 1,097-763 in 24 seasons, winning a championship with the Celtics in 2008.

Meanwhile, Griffin led the Bucks to a 30-13 record in his first season as an NBA head coach anywhere. His first sign of trouble in Milwaukee came before the season, when former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts resigned from his position as Griffin’s assistant. Lillard is known to be a Stotts fan from their time together in Portland.

“With Stotts out of the picture and the Bucks still looking for their identity as they reached the semifinals of the In-Season Tournament, the Bucks reached out to Rivers to serve as a veteran coaching voice to help Griffin find a path forward through the season,” Charania, Amick and Nehm wrote.

Griffin, 49, began his NBA coaching career as a Bucks assistant in 2008. He then served as an assistant with the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors before being hired to replace Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee this past offseason.

Before becoming a coach, Griffin was a journeyman guard/forward in the NBA from 1999-2008, playing for six different teams in that span.

“There have been steady rumblings for weeks in NBA circles that several Bucks veterans, including Giannis, had lost faith in Griffin,” Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated wrote. “That appeared to be smart hire last spring just never worked out.”

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