By record alone, the Milwaukee Bucks are having a strong season. The team is 30-13 and currently sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks also traded for Damian Lillard during the summer, which was the biggest move of the offseason.
And yet, things still seemed amiss. Griffin’s top assistant, Terry Stotts, left the team before its final preseason game. While the offense was pretty solid, the defense took a step back from previous seasons, ranking 22nd in defensive efficiency. There were also reports that the front office and perhaps some players were displeased with Griffin’s leadership.
Whatever the reason, the first-time head coach is out after 43 games. That means the Bucks will owe money to three different coaches this season.
Griffin signed a multiyear contract this offseason worth a little more than $4 million per year. Unless the Bucks have some kind of buyout agreement in place, they’re going to owe him the remainder of his contract. While the total length was unreported, the Bucks will be on the hook for $8 million over the next two seasons (and likely more than that).
After last season’s disappointing first-round exit, the Bucks fired Mike Budenholzer. He still has two years and $16 million on his contract — and the Bucks owe him all of that.
The Bucks are also on the hunt to replace Griffin. Doc Rivers, who’s currently an analyst at ESPN, has emerged as the frontrunner, though Milwaukee is also considering Jeff Van Gundy and Nate McMillan.
Of course, you can’t hire a new coach without paying them a salary, so the Bucks would also owe money to Griffin’s replacement.
That decision is yet to be announced. However, Rivers, who’s won an NBA championship and led multiple teams to the playoffs, would probably cost more than Griffin.
Assuming the new coach earns an annual salary similar to what Budenholzer was making, the Bucks would owe at least $40 million over the next two seasons to three different coaches, including two who are no longer involved with the team.
The rumor mill suggested the Bucks didn’t believe Griffin could lead them to a championship. Whoever replaces him will have a ton of pressure to get the Bucks back to another title.