Jason Kidd fired as Milwaukee Bucks coach
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The Milwaukee Bucks have fired head coach Jason Kidd, the team announced in a statement Monday afternoon.
"We appreciate everything that Jason has done for the Bucks organization, but we have decided to make a coaching change," GM Jon Horst said in the statement. "We believe that a fresh approach and a change in leadership are needed to continue elevating our talented team towards the next level, bringing us closer to our goal of competing for championships."
Horst has scheduled a 5 p.m. news conference to discuss Kidd's firing.
Assistant Joe Prunty will coach the team Monday night against the Phoenix Suns and will be named interim coach.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com first reported the firing.
The Bucks, who entered the season with high expectations coming off a playoff appearance while bringing the bulk of their team back, have lost four of their past five games and seven of their past 11. Heading into Monday's game, Milwaukee sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 23-22 record.
With its emphasis on continuity, Milwaukee entered the season with high hopes. Multiple Bucks players expressed a goal of reaching 50 wins and getting into the top four of the Eastern Conference. Jason Terry, the team's most veteran player and a former teammate of Kidd's, stated that the team had a goal of being a top-five defense in the league.
The Bucks have fallen short of those expectations thus far in 2017-'18. They peaked at five games over .500 on Dec. 9 but have gone 8-12 since. Milwaukee's defense — defined by aggressiveness and trapping that have been a consistent presence since Kidd's arrival — has spent much of the season in the bottom-five of the league, ranking 25th in the NBA in defensive rating heading into Monday.
“Nah, not at all," Bucks wing Khris Middleton said when asked if he was pleased with the Bucks' overall play following Saturday's loss in Philadelphia. "We’re playing below our own expectations. We can be a lot better. We still have the second half of the season where we can turn it up a notch. Hopefully, we can.”
Milwaukee's struggles have rankled a fan base that has experienced a revival over the past few seasons as the new ownership group took hold and promised sweeping changes to the culture and building not only a new arena, but also a championship-contending team on the court.
With the team — led by two-time all-star starter Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has become a top player in the NBA — underperforming expectations, the fan base had turned on Kidd, with a noteworthy contingent adopting "#FireKidd" avatars on Twitter. Fans didn't just voice their displeasure in cyberspace, as there were audible boos at the Bradley Center at multiple games over the past month when he was announced during pre-game introductions.
Kidd, 44, had a 139-152 record during his 3 ½ seasons on the Bucks' sidelines. The Bucks went to the playoffs twice under Kidd, but were ousted in the first round both times.
The Bucks hired Kidd to replace Larry Drew as coach in June of 2014, signing him to a three-year, $15 million deal. That contract was extended through the 2019-'20 season last summer.
Bucks owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens were instrumental in bringing Kidd to the Bucks from the Brooklyn Nets, where he was coach for one season.
Kidd, who had a 19-year NBA career and starred for the Nets, got to know Lasry during the player's time in New Jersey. Lasry was an investor in the Nets before joining with Edens to purchase the Bucks from former owner Herb Kohl in the spring of 2014.
Kidd helped engineer a 26-win turnaround in his first season, taking over a team that went 15-67 and guiding them to a 41-41 record and a trip to the playoffs. It was only the second time in NBA history a team went from having the worst record to reaching the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
The next season the Bucks regressed with a 33-49 record and missed the playoffs.
Last season, the Bucks finished 42-40 but lost to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.
Monday's firing comes during a season in which the Bucks hoped to build momentum entering the 2019 season when they will open their new arena.
Check back for more through the evening for more on this developing story.
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