Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst already has made the biggest move of his short tenure, when this past week he decided to fire head coach Jason Kidd. Horst has now set himself up for another huge, potentially franchise-altering decision: Who will replace Kidd?
The Bucks won't hire a new head coach until the offseason, but we've culled together some names from media reports and conjecture as to who might be the next leader for Milwaukee. We're not saying one of these will get the job, but it's a good as start as any to knowing potential candidates. (Note: listed in alphabetical order.)
The current Bucks ownership hasn't been around that long, but Cassell would provide a link back to the strong Milwaukee teams of the early 21st century, when the popular guard was a key player on those teams. Cassell has been an assistant coach since the 2009-10 season, first with the Wizards and now the Clippers, where he has been since 2014-15. Considered a head coaching candidate for a few years, Cassell interviewed for the job in Houston two years ago. The Rockets are known to heavily use analytics, which might be a direction the Bucks would like to head as well.
Brace HemmelgarnBrace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport
Fizdale figures to be near the top of the list. He's young enough (44 in June) to relate to today's players plus has had the backing of guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Vince Carter, all of whom he's coached. Fizdale remade Memphis' offense and led them to the playoffs in his first season as head coach with a 43-39 record. However, he surprisingly was fired after just 19 games this season (7-12) after a reported falling out with Marc Gasol. Unlike some other candidate, Fizdale has head coaching experience and certainly learned something from his first go-around.
Known as a strong two-way player during his pro career, enough was thought of Griffin's coaching ability that the Bucks hired him as an assistant coach in 2008 under Scott Skiles shortly after waiving him from their active roster. Griffin has since served under defensive mogul Tom Thibodeau in Chicago, as well as being the top assistant in both Orlando and Oklahoma City, where he now coaches under Billy Donovan. Well-respected around the NBA -- All-Star Jimmy Butler is among those who have heaped praise upon him -- and known as a smart tactician and teacher of defense, Griffin has interviewed for head coaching jobs in Utah, Cleveland, Houston and Orlando in the past.
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Are the Bucks willing to make a historic move and hire Hammon as the first women's head coach in the NBA? San Antonio head coach Greg Popovich, who hired Hammon as the first full-time, paid woman coaching assistant, is obviously high on Hammon's ability and thinks gender doesn't matter. Popovich had said Hammon knows the game and is respected and connects with players. Former NBA head coach Byron Scott has said Hammon deserves a shot to be a head coach. Unlike some other candidates, Hammon does have head coaching experience -- she coached the Spurs' summer league entry for two seasons and Popovich had her lead the team in a preseason game this past October (a 122-100 win over Denver). Hammon did interview for Milwaukee's recent general manager opening, so that could be a bit awkward, but if she's the right fit that shouldn't matter.
We only mention Pitino because, well, he's reportedly going to be a candidate. We get that some of the Bucks ownership has ties to New York City and Pitino is from the city and coached the Knicks … but he hasn't coached in the NBA since the 2000-01 season and had a career .466 winning percentage in the league, just once finishing with a winning record. And he didn't exactly leave Louisville without controversy. If you think hiring someone like Hammon would bring a lot of attention to the Bucks …
Thomas JosephThomas Joseph-USA TODAY Sports
A longtime assistant coach with San Antonio, Dallas, Portland, Brooklyn and then Milwaukee, Prunty is getting his first shot at being a head coach after being named the interim boss for the Bucks following Kidd's firing. Milwaukee had had two interim coaches previously in its history (Frank Hamblen, Jim Boylan) and neither was brought back. Of course, both also had losing records. What if Prunty can lead the Bucks to a winning record and past the first round of the playoffs? Milwaukee hasn't advanced past the first round since making the Eastern Conference finals in the 2000-01 season. That certainly would have to give him some consideration. But otherwise, being associated with Kidd, with whom he also coached under with the Nets, probably isn't going to help his cause.
Stackhouse isn’t so far removed from his playing days -- his last season was 2012-13; five current Bucks were in the NBA at the same time -- that he'll likely be very relatable to today's players. Stackhouse doesn't have a lot of coaching experience, although he did participate in the NBA's Assistant Coaches Program in 2014. In 2015-16, he served as an assistant with Toronto then was named head coach of its G League team, Raptors 905, who he led to a 39-11 record and a league championship. Stackhouse was also named the league's coach of the year. This season, Raptors 905 have an 18-12 record under Stackhouse heading into the weekend. It just seems like a matter of time before Stackhouse is a head coach in the NBA.
Jeff Van Gundy
Speaking of New York connections, Van Gundy's name also has come up as a potential Kidd placement. The ESPN broadcaster hasn't coached in the NBA in over a decade -- the 2006-07 season. Unlike Pitino, Van Gundy hasn't coached since, save for his current stint (since 2017) of the U.S. men's national team, which includes Xavier Munford and Marshall Plumlee, both on two-way contracts with the Bucks. With the Knicks and Houston, Van Gundy had just one season with a losing record over nine full seasons plus two partial ones. But it has been a while -- can he adapt to the new NBA or would he bring another old-school approach?
In his first year as head coach of New Orleans in 2010-11, the Pelicans won 46 games. After going through a rebuild and three losing seasons, Williams guided New Orleans to 45 wins in 2014-15, but the team was ousted in the first round of the playoffs and he was fired, to the surprise of many including star center Anthony Davis and Golden State head coach Steve Kerr. Williams would land with Oklahoma City as an assistant, but after the tragic death of his wife in an automobile accident that season, he took time off from coaching, eventually joining San Antonio as vice president of basketball operations. Williams figures to be a hot name in any coaching search, but is he ready to get back on the sidelines? Williams was reportedly offered the job at Illinois last year with the intent of getting back to the NBA. Like others on this list, Williams comes with the label of being a defensive-minded coach.