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Bucks make hiring of Adrian Griffin official, news conference set for Tuesday

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FILE -Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin takes charge of the team against the Detroit Pistons in NBA basketball game action in Toronto, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. The Milwaukee Bucks are finalizing a deal to make Adrian Griffin their head coach after he spent the last five seasons as a Toronto Raptors assistant, a person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press, Saturday, May 27, 2023.(Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Adrian Griffin is getting his first head coaching job at the same place where he started out as an assistant.

The Milwaukee Bucks officially announced Monday they have hired Griffin to replace Mike Budenholzer, who was fired last month after a first-round playoff loss to the Miami Heat. Reports surfaced on April 29 that the Bucks were finalizing an agreement to make Griffin their next coach.

An introductory news conference is scheduled for Tuesday.

Griffin has spent the last five seasons as a Toronto Raptors assistant on a staff headed by Nick Nurse, who was fired after the season and has since been hired as the Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach.

Griffin’s coaching career began during a stint as a Bucks assistant on Scott Skiles’ staff from 2008-10.

“The Bucks are a championship organization and I’m thrilled to work with an established roster of high-character and talented players,” Griffin said in a statement released by the team. “I’m excited to be back in Milwaukee and I can’t wait to get started.”

The 48-year-old Griffin began his first Milwaukee coaching stint after ending a nine-year NBA playing career that included stops with the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets. Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics.

He also was an assistant with the Chicago Bulls (2010-15), Orlando Magic (2015-16) and Oklahoma City Thunder (2016-18) before joining Toronto’s staff.

“Adrian is a widely-respected coach and former player, who brings great leadership and experience to our team,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said in a statement.

“His championship-level coaching pedigree, character, basketball acumen and ability to connect with and develop players makes him the ideal choice to lead our team. He has earned this opportunity.”

Griffin faces the challenge of replacing a coach who led the Bucks to their first title in half a century.

Budenholzer coached the Bucks to a league-best 271-120 regular-season record in his five seasons and coached the 2020-21 Bucks to an NBA championship, their first since 1971.

The Bucks made the coaching change because their post-season fortunes hadn’t matched their regular-season success for most of Budenholzer’s tenure.

Milwaukee had the NBA’s best regular-season record three of Budenholzer’s five seasons but didn’t make it beyond the Eastern Conference finals in any of those three years.

The Bucks blew a 2-0 lead and lost 4-2 in the 2019 Eastern Conference finals to the eventual NBA champion Raptors during Griffin’s first season in Toronto. The Bucks fell 4-1 to Miami in the second round of the 2020 playoffs in the Walt Disney World post-season bubble.

This year, the Bucks lost 4-1 to Miami in the first round after going 58-24 in the regular season. They were just the sixth No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 8 seed in the opening round, and the only No. 1 seed that failed to win more than one playoff game.

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Steve Megargee, The Associated Press