Head coach Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks have parted ways, apparently in a mutual decision, according to various sources and NBA media outlets.
The move, reported first late Monday by USA Today, was confirmed to NBA.com by a person close to the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The Bucks are expected to make an official announcement Tuesday.
Skiles was working in the final year of his contract — as was his staff, as is GM John Hammond, as are several key Milwaukee players — and NBA.com’s David Aldridge reported Monday that the coach informed the Bucks that he would not be returning next season. Team management or Skiles did not comment for the report, but there were obvious differences of opinion between the coach and the front office over the make-up of the roster and Skiles’ playing rotations.
For example, the Bucks’ lack of size last season sparked personnel moves that significantly beefed up the frontcourt: Hammond traded for center Samuel Dalembert, drafted power forward John Henson, retained free-agent forward Ersan Ilyasova and signed free-agent center Joel Przybilla. Yet with that logjam and the emergence of third-year big man Larry Sanders, Skiles used Dalembert and Henson sporadically and rarely activated Drew Gooden, who logged most of Milwaukee’s minutes at center last season.
Meanwhile, he grappled with a thin backcourt, with only Beno Udrih as a reliable backup to scorers/starters Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
In five seasons with Milwaukee, Skiles, 48, posted a 162-182 mark. The Bucks reached the playoffs once, extending Atlanta to seven games in the first round in 2010 despite playing without center Andrew Bogut. Bogut had suffered a gruesome wrist-and-arm injury late in the regular season, and his setbacks and inconsistency led to last season’s trade with Golden State and the resulting remodeling of the roster.
The business decision by Bucks owner Herb Kohl not to offer contract extensions beyond this season to Skiles or Hammond was not appreciated by the coach, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Skiles allegedly had talked with Kohl about a release after last season, when he might have been a candidate for one of several NBA coaching positions. One of those jobs was in Orlando, where he enjoyed his greatest success as a player and where, unlike the Bucks, the Magic were committed to a full overhaul.
Still, Milwaukee keeping the coaches and the GM in the final seasons of their deals at least was consistent with the Bucks’ decision not to extend Jennings’ contract. They opted to let the point guard test the market as a restricted free agent this summer. Ellis has an opt-out clause in his contract.
And now their head coach will be out there as well, unrestricted.
Jim Boylan, Skiles’ top assistant coach in his stints as head coach in Phoenix and Chicago, will step in immediately. Coincidentally, he’ll slide one seat over just in time to face the Suns Tuesday at BMO Harris Bradley Center and the Bulls Wednesday in Chicago.