Nets Notebook: Jacque Vaughn, Tom Thibodeau share thoughts on Bucks’ firing of Adrian Griffin

The Milwaukee Bucks dismissed first-year head coach Adrian Griffin on Tuesday after a 30-13 start to the regular season. Led by stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, they were 3.5 games behind the Boston Celtics for first place in the Eastern Conference entering the night.

Griffin was hired over the summer to replace former head coach Mike Budenholzer after the top-seeded Bucks were eliminated by the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs last season. Milwaukee went 271-120 in regular-season games during Budenholzer’s tenure. He helped the franchise to its second championship in 2020-21 and was also named NBA coach of the year in his five seasons as head coach.

“It’s unfortunate, the sad part of the business,” said Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has coached and coached with Griffin. “Good man. Good coach… That’s our reality.”

Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn, who also has a relationship with Griffin as a player and a coach, did not go into great length when asked about his thoughts on Griffin’s firing. However, he did share his thoughts about the importance of continuity in the NBA. Budenholzer had two years left on his deal when he was fired in May. Griffin lasted only 43 games.

“You see the franchises in this league who have over and over been able to be great franchises and a big part of that is continuity,” Vaughn said. “So whether that’s the Spurs, whether that’s the Heat, whether that’s been Utah, historically, there’s something to continuity. I don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s household. I always worry about my house and how tight and orient it needs to be, so I’ll just leave it at that. But there’s something to continuity in this league and that’s why those three franchises have been pretty good for a long time.”

ESPN reported that Doc Rivers is Milwaukee’s top target to replace Griffin. Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, former head coach of the Nets and runner-up to Griffin over the summer, will also reportedly be a strong candidate if the Bucks are unable to secure Rivers.

“Every organization has their philosophy,” Thibodeau said. “There’s different things you go through throughout the course of a season. You can never really judge another organization unless you’re there. No one really knows.”

INJURY UPDATES

Third-year center Day’Ron Sharpe missed his sixth straight game on Tuesday because of a hyperextended left knee. He was seen doing light on-court work and conditioning drills at shootaround ahead of the game. He remains in spirits, according to Vaughn and his teammates, but Sharpe’s workload will remain limited until he reaches the next phase in his recovery. “No setbacks though, which is good,” Vaughn said.

Ben Simmons will not play this week against the Knicks, Timberwolves and Rockets at home. However, Vaughn said that “all signs” are pointing toward Simmons getting practice reps with the team’s G League affiliate in Long Island “in the near future”. He has not appeared in a game for the Nets since Nov. 6 because of a lower back nerve impingement injury.

BRIDGES, JOHNSON NAMED TEAM USA FINALISTS

USA Basketball released its list of 41 finalists that will be used to select the 12-player roster for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Brooklyn’s Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson made the cut. Both participated in the FIBA World Cup with Team USA this past summer.

The Nets played the Cleveland Cavaliers in Paris earlier in the month.

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