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Sources: Bucks' coaching search down to 3 finalists

The Milwaukee Bucks are bringing back three candidates to interview a second time for the franchise's head coaching job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew, Houston Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford will meet with Bucks officials this week in Milwaukee, sources said.

Clifford will visit Milwaukee again on Tuesday, and Sampson and Drew on Wednesday, league sources said.

Bucks general manager John Hammond has a stronger history with Sampson – who spent two years on the Milwaukee staff under Scott Skiles – but has been increasingly impressed with the possibilities with Clifford, sources said. Clifford has come strongly recommended by three former coaching colleagues that Hammond respects – Chicago's Tom Thibodeau and Stan and Jeff Van Gundy.

In his two years in Houston, Sampson has grown as an NBA coach after decades of success in the college game. He had a strong run as the Rockets' interim coach, while Kevin McHale had to leave the team for several weeks.

In three seasons in Atlanta, Drew has a 128-102 record. The Hawks advanced to the playoffs all three years, including the conference semifinals in 2010-11. Drew's contract expires on June 30 with the Hawks, and he's expected to be replaced as coach soon. Atlanta is conducting a search and allowing him to seek jobs elsewhere.

While Sampson and Clifford are both strong candidates in Charlotte, each is eager for the opportunity with the Bucks, league sources said. Milwaukee made the playoffs this season and has several attractive players on the roster.

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