MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks fired coach Jason Kidd on Monday amid a midseason slide that has left the playoff hopeful in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
It was a surprising end to Kidd’s three-plus season tenure in Milwaukee, when the Bucks made the playoffs twice. Giannis Antetokounmpo turned into an All-Star under his watch, and the Bucks were considered an emerging force in the East at the start of the season.
But the Bucks had lost four of five to fall to 23-22 going into Monday night’s home game against Phoenix, and had been prone to defensive lapses especially on the perimeter. Assistant coach Joe Prunty is serving as interim head coach.
General manager Jon Horst, who was promoted from director of basketball operations in June, said it was time for a change and the move was made with “unanimous support of ownership.”
Under Kidd, the Bucks had a regular-season record of 139-152.
“We appreciate everything that Jason has done for the Bucks organization, but we have decided to make a coaching change,” Horst said. “We believe that a fresh approach and a change in leadership are needed to continue elevating our talented team toward the next level, bringing us closer to our goal of competing for championships.”
Kidd had negotiated a role in the Bucks’ personnel moves as part of his exit from the Nets in 2014. His teams qualified for the playoffs twice, but never made it out of the first round.
The Bucks are hoping to get Jabari Parker back from a left knee injury that has kept him out all season. But the Bucks have largely tread water in the wide-open East even after adding talented guard Eric Bledsoe in a trade with the Suns in November.
Milwaukee is 8-12 since going a season-high five games over .500 on Dec. 9.
This is an important year for the Bucks, who are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the franchise and getting ready for the opening of a new downtown arena.
“We believe that making this change now is important for the organization and gives our players the best chance to reach their full potential this season and beyond,” Horst said.