The Milwaukee Bucks have narrowed the group of top candidates in the franchise's coaching search and plan on meeting with ex-Toronto coach Nick Nurse, Golden State Warriors associate head coach Kenny Atkinson and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin this week, sources told ESPN on Monday.
Those three coaches will be part of conversations with franchise leadership in the coming days, sources said. Bucks general manager Jon Horst interviewed as many 15 initial candidates in recent weeks before the franchise began to pare down the list of finalists over the weekend, sources said.
Nurse looms prominently in not only the Bucks' search but those of the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers, sources said. The Raptors and Detroit Pistons also have ongoing searches for a new coach.
The Bucks offer an appealing job in a competitive marketplace with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in his prime. Milwaukee is searching to replace Mike Budenholzer, who was fired after the team was upset in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Budenholzer won the 2021 NBA championship and left with nearly a .700 regular-season winning percentage.
Nurse departed Toronto with an NBA title in 2019, an NBA Coach of the Year award in 2020 and a 227-163 (.582) record in five seasons as coach.
Atkinson accepted the Hornets' head-coaching job last spring before changing his mind and remaining with the Warriors for a second season. He spent a year on the Clippers' coaching staff after parting ways with the Brooklyn Nets in the 2019-20 season. Atkinson was 118-190 in the three-plus years with the Nets, including going 42-40 record and reaching the playoffs in the 2018-19 season.
Griffin has been a steady climber as a top head-coaching candidate among the pool of league assistants, including the past four years on Nurse's staff with the Raptors. Griffin had stops with Oklahoma City, Orlando and Chicago, and he started his NBA coaching career as an assistant for two seasons (2008-2010) with the Bucks.