The Milwaukee Bucks have parted ways with head coach Jason Kidd. Many have already started linking former Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale to the gig.
Assistant coach Joe Prunty will take over the interim job in Milwaukee. But there are many other viable options for the Bucks besides Fizdale who may take over as the long-term leader of the franchise.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski described the vacancy as the one likely to become “the most sought-after” due to the unique opportunity of working with rising superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
David Fizdale, Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach (2016-17)
Fizdale is likely considered the early favorite to take over as head coach of the Bucks.
When he was fired by the Grizzlies earlier this season, top players around the league who have worked with Fizdale like LeBron James were quick to support the coach. While he was recently linked to the Los Angeles Lakers gig, there may not be more than smoke to that rumor.
Fizdale had been an assistant coach since 2003 before he was hired to take over in Memphis. His departure was certainly strange and it was due in large part to a dispute with his star player Marc Gasol.
He would be a home-run hire for Milwaukee and is the most obvious candidate available.
Jerry Stackhouse, Raptors 905 Head Coach (G-League)
Several executives reportedly believe “he’ll be on the interview circuit before long” and will eventually become an NBA head coach. Stackhouse has said that this type of job has been a long-time goal.
Two-time All-Star Elton Brand spoke about Stackhouse and his future in the league (via Raptors Republic):
“I expect Jerry Stackhouse to get a professional coaching job or a top head coach college job if he wants it very soon. His players respect him, he knows how to win. I know executives are aware of him and they’re taking note.”
He played for the Bucks in 2010 and was considered a “fan favorite” at the time. Stackhouse also received “serious consideration” to become an assistant coach in Milwaukee back in 2014. He was instead hired by the Toronto Raptors.
Last season, Stackhouse was named the 2016-17 D-League Coach of the Year.
Monty Williams, San Antonio Spurs VP of Basketball
Williams has previous experience as a head coach for New Orleans from 2010 until 2015.
He was also the associate head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016, who took the Warriors to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals during an incredible series.
While he was offered a chance to become one of the highest-paid college coaches in March 2017, he declined because he preferred a “prompt” return to the NBA.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski called Williams an “elite candidate” for any vacancy.
Darvin Ham, Atlanta Hawks Lead Assistant Coach
Ham played for the Bucks from 1999 until 2002 and has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2011. Kevin Arnovitz recently wrote about his development as a coach (via ESPN):
“He enjoyed a nine-year career in the NBA, and colleagues say he has a coach’s intuition. When Quin Snyder moved from the Lakers to Atlanta in 2012, he urged Ham, who also sat on Mike Brown‘s bench, to seize the opportunity to claim more responsibility in Atlanta. An assistant on [Mike] Budenholzer‘s staff, which is quickly sprouting its own coaching tree, performs a full rotation of tasks.”
The coaching tree in Atlanta includes aforementioned Utah’s Quin Snyder as well as Brooklyn’s Kenny Atkinson.
Adrian Griffin, Oklahoma City Thunder Assistant
Griffin is someone whose name keeps popping up as a candidate to become a head coach (via Sporting News):
“Following nearly a decade as a player, Griffin has served as an assistant coach in Milwaukee, Chicago, Orlando and currently Oklahoma City. He has a habit of building relationships with those around him. He’s a guy who has made an impact at every stop but doesn’t need to take credit for individual or team success. Griffin is also a defensive-minded coach, having spent time under Tom Thibodeau.”
He was an assistant for the Bucks from 2008 until 2010. Griffin reportedly “barely filed his retirement papers” before he was offered a job as an assistant coach for Milwaukee.
Players who were on the roster included Stackhouse and current Cleveland head coach Ty Lue.
Stackhouse was also his teammate in Dallas during the 2005-06 season. Other players who were on that team include Jason Terry (who is currently on the Bucks) as well as current Mavericks assistant Darrell Armstrong.
Sam Cassell, Los Angeles Clippers Assistant Coach
Cassell, who is a three-time NBA champion, played for the Bucks from 1999 until 2003.
As a player, he was coached by Doc Rivers, Flip Saunders and John Calipari. His assistant coaches included Tom Thibodeau and Terry Stotts. The former All-Star has served as an assistant coach in the league since 2009, which gives him nearly a decade of experience in this type of role as well.
Saunders spoke highly about Cassell in an interview (via Washington Post):
“Sam never played because he was fast or jumped very high. Sam is a guy who didn’t play because of his athleticism. He played because of how smart he was. He knew angles and played to those. He’s able to help and transform that to some of the players.”
He was considered an option for the head coach vacancy in Houston back in 2011.
Ettore Messina, San Antonio Spurs Assistant Coach
Arnovitz has also written about why Messina would be a fantastic hire for a team like Milwaukee (via ESPN):
“In Europe, player development occurs primarily at the youth level, but in San Antonio, Messina has been exposed to its importance in the NBA, further filling out his education. Tactically, Messina fashioned in Europe an intelligent brand of inside-out ball that forces defenses to move. He has amassed a canon of basketball knowledge and commands respect from professionals, young and old.”
Antetokounmpo is perhaps the most fascinating young player in the league from a developmental standpoint. Messina would work wonders with the sensational young talent.
Ime Udoka, San Antonio Spurs Assistant Coach
The former NBA player has received wonderful reviews from San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich (via ESPN):
“He exudes a confidence and a comfort in his own skin where people just gravitate to him. He’s a fundamentally sound teacher because he’s comfortable with himself, he knows the material and players read it. Often times, I’ll say, ‘Ime, can you go talk to so-and-so? Go talk to Patty Mills, go talk to Timmy, go talk to Kawhi.’ And he’ll do it better than I would do it — and I’m not blowing smoke.”
According to USA TODAY’s Sam Amick, the Spurs were actually able to sign big man LaMarcus Aldridge back in 2015 due to the persuasive nature of Udoka.
Other Candidates To Consider
Mark Jackson — Former head coach for Golden State Warriors (2011-14)
Jeff Van Gundy — Former head coach for Houston Rockets (2003-07)
Becky Hammon — Assistant coach for San Antonio Spurs (2014-present)
James Borrego — Assistant coach for San Antonio Spurs (2015-present)
Jamie Young — Assistant coach for Boston Celtics (2011-present)
Igor Kokoskov — Assistant coach for Utah Jazz (2015-present)
Chris Fleming — Assistant coach for Brooklyn Nets (2016-present)
Chris Finch — Assistant coach for New Orleans Pelicans (2017-present)
DunkWire, Adrian Griffin, Becky Hammon, Chris Fleming, Darvin Ham, David Fizdale, Ettore Messina, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Igor Kokoskov, Ime Udoka, Jamie Young, Jason Kidd, Jeff Van Gundy, Jerry Stackhouse, Mark Jackson, Monty Williams, Sam Cassell, Milwaukee Bucks