Adrian WojnarowskiNBA Senior Insider3 minute read
The Milwaukee Bucks have narrowed the pool of top candidates in the franchise’s coaching search and plan to meet with former Toronto coach Nick Nurse, Golden State Warriors associate head coach Kenny Atkinson and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin this week, sources told ESPN on Monday.
These three coaches will be part of conversations with franchise executives in the coming days, sources said. Bucks general manager Jon Horst interviewed as many as 15 initial candidates over the past few weeks before the franchise began whittling down the roster of finalists over the weekend, sources said.
Nurse figures prominently in not only the Bucks search, but also the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers, sources said. The Raptors and Detroit Pistons are also looking for a new coach.
The Bucks offer attractive work in a competitive market with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo at his peak. Milwaukee is looking to replace Mike Budenholzer, who was fired after the team was upset in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Budenholzer won the 2021 NBA championship and came away with a winning percentage of nearly .700 in the regular season.
Nurse left Toronto with an NBA title in 2019, an NBA Coach of the Year award in 2020 and a 227-163 (.582) record in five seasons as a coach.
Atkinson accepted the position of head coach of the Hornets last spring before changing his mind and staying with the Warriors for a second season. He spent a year on the Clippers coaching staff after parting ways with the Brooklyn Nets in the 2019-20 season. Atkinson was 118-190 in the three-plus years with the Nets, including hitting a 42-40 record and reaching the playoffs in the 2018-19 season.
Griffin has been a steady climber as the top head coaching candidate among the league’s assistant pool, including the last four years on Nurse’s staff with the Raptors. Griffin made stops in Oklahoma City, Orlando and Chicago, and he began his NBA coaching career as an assistant for two seasons (2008-2010) with the Bucks.