The Bucks coaching staff is quickly coming together under new head coach Doc Rivers. While we don’t know when Rivers will coach his first game at the helm, we know his contract and the two new assistants he’s bringing to Milwaukee with him. Let’s go ahead and dive into the latest news surrounding the Bucks coaching staff for the rest of the 2023–2024 season.
Doc gets the bag
After being out of coaching since the 76ers' loss to the Boston Celtics in the second round last season, Rivers finally has a job and is getting quite the lucrative contract to leave ESPN. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the former NBA champion is getting $40 million through the 2026–2027 season, which is an average of $11.4 million for the three and a half seasons Rivers would be potentially coaching.
Sources: Doc Rivers is signing a contract through the 2026-27 season worth in the range of $40 million to be the Bucks’ head coach. Milwaukee is paying out former coaches Mike Budenholzer and Adrian Griffin, and now Rivers for next 3.5 years. pic.twitter.com/TJNafNFms9— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 25, 2024
With this latest hire, the Bucks are not one, not two, but three head coaching salaries for this season and next season. Mike Budenholzer was fired after the first-round exit that shall not be named and he had an extension through the 2024–2025 season and now Griffin is gone as well with an unknown length on his contract. Bucks GM Jon Horst said the following in a press conference before the Bucks 126-116 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Bucks still haven’t officially announced the hiring and we still don’t have a date for Doc Rivers’ press conference, but I believe those two things should be coming in the next few days.
Dave Joerger follows Doc
Breaking just today from Shams, Doc Rivers is bringing a former assistant from their time in Philly with Dave Joerger, as many speculated in the last few days:
Prior to his stint with the Sixers, Joerger had two stints as a head coach, first with the Grizzlies (2013–2016) and then with the Kings (2016–2019). He made the playoffs in all three seasons with Memphis but missed them in all three with Sacramento, where he never posted a winning record. After Doc’s dismissal last spring, he’d been with the Cavs as a coaching consultant to J.B. Bickerstaff.
Kalamian gets back to coaching
Rounding out his staff, Doc is adding one more assistant who has been around a very long time:
Doc Rivers is hiring longtime NBA assistant Rex Kalamian for his Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff, sources tell ESPN. Kalamian has been working as a scout with the Nets this season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 26, 2024
Kalamian got his first assistant gig in 1995 with the Clippers before moving onto a laundry list of teams, including the Thunder team that reached the Finals in 2012. He’s also the head coach of the Armenian national team, but outside of that, he’s always been an assistant. Most recently, he was part of Dwane Casey’s staff in Detroit before his boss got the axe there, and since moved onto a pro scouting job with Brooklyn. Midway through his first season there, he’ll join Rivers in Milwaukee, with whom Kalamian served with on the Clippers (in Kalamian’s second stint there) from 2018–2020.
Was Doc consulting?
As was reported in the immediate aftermath of Adrian Griffin’s firing, Rivers had been something of an “informal consultant” to Griffin in the past couple of months, seemingly at the behest of the Bucks. However, Chris Haynes and Marc Stein cast some doubt on that in today’s edition of their “#thisleague UNCUT” podcast:
In the latest "#thisleague UNCUT", some pushback on the idea that Doc was a consultant for Adrian Griffin:@ChrisBHaynes: "I think if Doc is asked about that consultant role, if he's asked about it publicly, he'll refute that. Behind the scenes I'm hearing that role was offered,…— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 26, 2024
We may never know the full truth of this situation, but this could all be some attempt to save face by Rivers or the Bucks in what looks a bit underhanded by one or both parties. This also wouldn’t be out of character for the franchise who put then-head coach Larry Drew next to Jabari Parker at his post-draft introduction shortly before swiping Jason Kidd from the Nets to take Drew’s job. It’s all somewhat moot now, though.