Report: Celtics consultant Jeff Van Gundy on Bucks' HC short list originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Bucks are in the market for a new head coach after shockingly firing Adrian Griffin on Tuesday despite the team's 30-13 record. Initial reports have pegged Doc Rivers as a strong candidate to replace Griffin, with Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes writing that Milwaukee is "zeroing in" on the former Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers head coach.
But Haynes also noted the Bucks have a "short list" of other candidates that includes former Atlanta Hawks head coach Nate McMillan and current Celtics senior consultant Jeff Van Gundy.
UPDATE (11:33 a.m. ET): The Bucks are hiring Rivers as their new head coach, according to multiple reports.
Van Gundy hasn't been an NBA head coach since 2007 and served as a color commentator for ESPN until 2023, when the Celtics hired him in a front office consultant role in October. While we haven't heard much publicly about Van Gundy this season, head coach Joe Mazzulla said before the season he thought the coaching veteran could be a "huge weapon" for Boston.
"It's really cool because he has a non-biased perspective toward our organization," Mazzulla said in late October. "And as the season goes on, it becomes hard at times to take a 30,000-foot view, because you're working with these guys every day and you're in it, and you're staff is in it.
"So to have a guy who can take a step back and see the organization from the outside -- he's scouting us, so we're going to know ourselves better than others because he's looking at us every single day and studying us."
From that perspective, the Celtics likely would prefer Milwaukee goes with McMillan or Rivers, who spent nine seasons in Boston and led the C's to an NBA championship in 2008. Rivers hasn't gotten back to the NBA Finals since leaving Boston, however, and his teams lost in the second round in his last four coaching seasons, including a seven-game loss to the Celtics in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Bucks are a serious threat to Boston in the East, boasting the NBA's second-best record and its highest-scoring offense (tied with the Indiana Pacers) led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. The key for whoever takes the job will be shoring up Milwaukee's defense, which ranks 25th in points allowed per game.
And if Rivers is the choice, we could see a second straight postseason matchup between the longtime coach and his former team.