Milwaukee, WI – Adrian Griffin, a former assistant with the Toronto Raptors, has been tapped to replace Mike Budenholzer as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Griffin officially took over after Tuesday’s news conference, where he expressed his gratitude to the Bucks organization for the opportunity to coach a team loaded with special talent. He acknowledged the responsibility that comes with leading a title contender, saying, “Let’s be real, what first-time head coach gets to coach the Milwaukee Bucks?”
Griffin’s hiring was unconventional, as he has no previous head coach experience. Among other teams who made coaching changes since the end of the regular season, only the Bucks opted for a first-time head coach. The Philadelphia 76ers chose former Raptors coach Nick Nurse, the Houston Rockets selected ex-Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka, the Detroit Pistons hired former Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams, Phoenix hired Frank Vogel, and Toronto still has yet to fill its vacancy.
Griffin’s background as an NBA player and assistant for the past two decades made him the ideal candidate, according to Bucks general manager Jon Horst. Horst cited a comment from his assistant general manager Milt Newton, who said throughout the hiring process, “Adrian’s a head coach. He just hasn’t gotten the opportunity yet.”
Griffin, who played eight seasons in the NBA, has spent 15 years as an NBA assistant coach since retirement. To address his lack of experience, he has enlisted Terry Stotts, who spent 13 years as an NBA head coach, to join his staff.
Despite the pressure that comes with replacing a championship-winning coach like Budenholzer, Griffin is excited about the opportunity to work with a talented roster led by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. He spoke to Antetokounmpo before he was hired and said he felt like they connected and that they have similar values.
Griffin’s ex-wife, Audrey Sterling, accused him in an August 2020 social media post of physically abusing her and failing to pay child support. Griffin filed a defamation lawsuit a year later, and the matter was settled last September.
“We believe him and believe in him, and the person of high character that he is,” Horst said, “Everyone we spoke to felt the same. It gave us a ton of excitement and confidence in making the hire, even though we were aware of those allegations.”
Griffin, whose coaching career started with Scott Skiles’ staff in Milwaukee in 2008, is back where it all began. He now rejoins Horst, who was the Bucks’ director of basketball operations back then.
“It’s funny how life works,” Griffin said, “everything has come full circle.”