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Jason Kidd fired as Bucks head coach

Milwaukee is barely hanging onto a playoff spot this season, and that prompted action from the front office.

Milwaukee Bucks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks fired head coach Jason Kidd on Monday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. While the Bucks are slightly over .500 with a 23-22 record, this season has generally been seen as a disappointing one for a team that is barely clinging to a playoff spot despite high expectations coming into this season.

The Bucks confirmed the news half an hour later.

Bucks assistant Joe Prunty will serve as the interim head coach in Kidd’s wake. Prunty previously served as the interim coach when Kidd underwent hip surgery and missed time during the 2015-16 season.

It appears that the firing process could have gone smoother. According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Kidd had not officially been told of the firing when the news first broke. Haynes also reported that Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate for the Bucks this season, was “devastated” by the news.

Kidd was in his fifth season as an NBA head coach, and his fourth year in Milwaukee. He started with the Brooklyn Nets during the 2013-14 season, immediately after retiring as a player. During the 2014 offseason, after reportedly angling for more power in the Brooklyn front office and being denied, Kidd was traded to Milwaukee for two second-round picks.

In his three prior seasons, Kidd finished with 42, 41, and 33 wins.

It’s unclear if other players share Antetokounmpo’s reported devastation or if they are happier about the news. It’s worth noting that reserve guard Sean Kilpatrick tweeted this right after the news broke, though he did not reference Kidd directly.

Why was Kidd fired?

Milwaukee had high playoff hopes coming into this season, with some hope that they could even push for home-court advantage with a top-four seed. Instead, even with a trade for Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks have played average, inconsistent basketball.

The team’s defense has been horrid this year, too, something that SB Nation’s BrewHoop links to Kidd’s coaching. As Adam Paris writes:

Some lay all of the Bucks’ problems at Jason Kidd’s feet. Much of this criticism is fair. The defensive scheme seems broken perhaps beyond repair. When your team’s overall defensive statistics were better last year while Matthew Dellavedova, Jabari Parker, Michael Beasley and Greg Monroe hoisted minutes aplenty rather than Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and John Henson, then there’s probably a fundamental issue that needs to be solved.

After the Bledsoe trade was made early this season, and with Antetokounmpo playing as well as he has, it felt like Milwaukee should make a leap. They haven’t, and that blame typically falls on coaching.

Bucks fans have also been frustrated with some excuses that Kidd has made, specifically calling the team young. While the team does rely on some under-25 contributors, every player in the starting five besides 23-year-old Antetokounmpo is 25 or older, which makes statements like this puzzling.

Wojnarowski also reports that “frayed relationships in the organization” and “general non-alignment” contributed to Kidd’s firing. While those are vague, they are certainly legitimate reasons that contributed in some manner. If Milwaukee was making a stronger playoff push, they definitely might have been overlooked.

But when you combine those things with poor on-court performances, it’s not a huge surprise that Kidd was let go.