Bucks Coaching Drama: Terry Stotts Had ‘Trouble’ as an Assistant?

Terry Stotts, former Bucks assistant coach

Getty Terry Stotts, former Bucks assistant coach

It certainly isn’t nearly on par with an NBA finalist suspending its head coach just prior to the start of training camp, but key Bucks assistant coach Terry Stotts resigning a week before Milwaukee’s October 26 regular-season opener creates a void nonetheless.

“It’s not like Boston dropping [Ime] Udoka last year and putting in [Joe] Mazzulla, but Stotts was supposed to have a big role with [the Bucks’] offense,” one league source told Heavy Sports, just hours after the Milwaukee news broke on October 19.

While The Athletic reported an incident between Terry Stotts and first-year Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin at a recent shootaround, one source who’s been in contact with Stotts during the preseason told Heavy that there may be a larger matter in play.

“It seemed like he was having trouble adjusting to being an assistant again,” he said. “I think that was a factor.

“He was out for two years, he doesn’t need the money. … Maybe it was just a thing where he just wasn’t feeling it.”

Terry Stotts Added to Help Bucks’ Adrian Griffin Adjust

Stotts, with 13 seasons as an NBA head coach, was brought in to be a steady veteran source for Griffin, who’s spent the last 15 years as an assistant in the league. Having coached recent Milwaukee acquisition Damian Lillard in Portland, Stotts was expected to be something of an offensive coordinator and find ways to integrate the skills of Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

But, according to The Athletic, the situation among the coaches was uneasy at times. The outlet cited the end of a shootaround in which the team huddled and the players broke off for individual work. Griffin was said to call for another huddle with the coaches, but Stotts started moving with the players. When Griffin called for him to join the coaches, there was conflict.

Can the Bucks Adjust on the Floor?

With Stotts’ resignation, the question turns to the on-court product moving forward.

“It’s definitely not the way you wanted it to go,” said the second source. “I don’t know how this will affect things, but I can’t imagine it will affect it terribly.”

Thus far, the Antetokounmpo-Lillard collaboration is on a good track.

“They’re both really good guys,” said one league source with a close eye on the Bucks’ progress. “They both want to win. They’re both going to give in a little bit. I’d say Dame’s the one that’s probably going to have to give in more than Giannis.

He added, “Giannis has looked great. I tell you what, his shooting stroke is by far the best I’ve ever seen it.”

It’s been an interesting several months for the Bucks, who racked up the best record in the league before getting bounced 4-1 by play-in qualifier Miami in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Two years after coaching Milwaukee to the NBA championship, Mike Budenholzer was fired.

According to two sources who spoke with Heavy Sports, exit interviews with Bucks players were perhaps the final factor in the decision. Game management was said to be an issue.

“He’s a good guy and a good coach, but they had to make changes, and that was bound to be one,” said a source.

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