Bucks fire head coach Jason Kidd amid underachieving season

Jason Kidd representing Milwaukee at the 2017 NBA draft lotteryJason Kidd is no longer head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Kidd was fired on Monday halfway through his fourth season coaching the Bucks, who are clinging to one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Kidd’s overall regular season record with Milwaukee was 139-152 with two postseason appearances, and his firing opens a coaching seat that is likely coveted due to the presence of Giannis Antetokounmpo on the Bucks’ roster.

Antetokounmpo developed into one of the NBA’s top players under Kidd, and that development may have ironically led Milwaukee to fire him. With Antetokounmpo in the midst of an MVP-level season, the Bucks expect to be one of the top teams in the conference, and Kidd’s leadership wasn’t getting them there. Antetokounmpo called Kidd before news of the firing became official and offered to do whatever he could to help change the team’s mind, but the decision was already made.

Kidd began his tenure in Milwaukee in 2014 after one season coaching the Brooklyn Nets. The Bucks traded two second-round picks to Brooklyn in exchange for Kidd, who was reportedly at odds with the Nets’ front office. It was a rare coaching trade that signalled not only Brooklyn’s desire to get rid of Kidd, but also the Bucks’ desire to land a coach with Kidd’s legacy as a player. Kidd was one of the top point guards of his generation, retiring with the second-most career assists and steals, and Milwaukee believed he could pass that tenacious playmaking mentality on to its young roster. Three and a half seasons later, the Bucks distribute the ball well enough but are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, and their team defense needs work as well.

Milwaukee beat the Suns 109-105 on Monday night under the direction of former assistant coach Joe Prunty, who will assume the role of interim head coach while the Bucks search for a replacement for Kidd. Antetokounmpo missed Monday’s contest due to a knee issue, but Khris Middleton powered Milwaukee with 35 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 32, while Eric Bledsoe had a team-high 7 assists. Whoever picks up where Kidd left off will inherit a young, talented team ready to contend, with one of the league’s most intriguing talents in Antetokounmpo. The next step will be turning that talent into championship contention.