At 30-13, Milwaukee Bucks fire head coach Adrian Griffin

Golden State Warriors v Milwaukee Bucks
Golden State Warriors v Milwaukee Bucks

The lesson here: If you're going to fire a successful head coach, you better have someone lined up you are sure is better.

After the Milwaukee Bucks were eliminated in five games by the Miami Heat last playoffs, Giannis Antetokounmpo threw coach Mike Budenholzer under the bus, saying, "I don't think as a team we made the right [adjustment], or we didn't make as many adjustments as we could have against [Jimmy Butler]... For me, I think this has been the worst postseason ever." Soon after, Budenholzer was fired despite having led the team to its first title in 50 years two years earlier. The Bucks replaced the respected veteran coach with a rookie coach in former NBA player Adrian Griffin — the guy Antetokounmpo reportedly wanted.

Now Griffin is out, fired by the Bucks on Tuesday, something the team confirmed after the story was broken earlier in multiple reports.

"This was a difficult decision to make during the season," Bucks General Manager Jon Horst said in a statement (echoing what he said when Budenholzer was fired). "We are working immediately toward hiring our next head coach. We thank Coach Griffin for his hard work and contributions to the team."

Long-time NBA assistant Joe Prunty — who has been an interim head coach with the Bucks after Jason Kidd was fired in 2018 — will have the job on an interim basis.

Doc Rivers has emerged as the leading candidate to take over a team that views itself as a contender, according to multiple reports. Rivers brings experience in big games, is a former player, and has the gravitas to push players like Antetokounmpo or Damian Lillard when the time calls for it. One other veteran coach whose name could come up is Kenny Atkinson, but Rivers seems to be the early favorite.

Is Rivers an upgrade from Budenholzer? Debate that amongst yourselves.

There is no chance this firing happened without Antetokounmpo and Lillard having a heads up, and they did not stop it.

However, if there is blame, it goes to the Bucks front office and ownership for making the change and putting Griffin in the spot they did. Not that Griffin was flawless, there were questions about whether he was up for the job, but hiring a rookie coach into this environment was a massive risk and it backfired.

Griffin tried to put his stamp on this team, but there have been a number of missteps. Terry Stotts — the long-time Portland head coach who knows Lillard and his game well — was brought in as an assistant and offensive coordinator, but quit in frustration before the season even began. Griffin tried to modify the Bucks' very successful defense, asking Brook Lopez to play out higher on the floor rather than in drop coverage, but it didn't work and a couple of weeks into the season the players came to him begging for a change. They did, but Milwaukee's defense has not been the same all season (replacing Jrue Holiday with Lillard is part of that).

There were other things, but Griffin wasn't going to get the chance to learn on the job — the Bucks are as "win now" an organization as there is in the league. Their window with Antetokounmpo and 33-year-old Lillard will not be open long and they can't waste a season waiting for a coach to catch up. While the Bucks are 30-13, they have been the luckiest team in the NBA this season with 4.6 more wins than their net rating suggests (via Cleaning the Glass). The Bucks' +3.4 net rating is that of a 49-win team, Lillard has just been so clutch it inflated the victories.

Doc Rivers, or whoever comes in, has half a season to take this team from very good to true feared contender.