Monday, May 20, 2024

The Doc Rivers exit interview: Giannis’ health, disappointing end to Bucks’ season, offseason changes and more.

Must read


Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers held a season-ending press conference Friday afternoon at the team’s practice facility, one day after his team was eliminated in six games by the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Rivers was hired on Jan. 26 to replace Adrian Griffin and assumed duties on Jan. 29. The Bucks went 17-19 in the regular season under Rivers and 2-4 in the playoffs.

He met with the local media for about 20 minutes. Here are some highlights from that question-and-answer session:

Giannis Antetokounmpo has been hurt in two straight playoffs; how do you manage his health?

“I asked him, when is he going to start (summer workouts). And most guys say, ‘Well, about six weeks.’ He goes, ‘Two weeks I think I’ll be healthy,’ so two weeks. And I say, ‘Maybe three weeks would be better.’ And then doing targeted work. That’s one of the things we talked about. Giannis will get all four hours in of working on everything, and I said maybe start focusing on targeted work. So one day, just take jump shots instead of doing everything. I think that will help him if he does that.”

Would Giannis have been available in the playoffs?

“Yeah, he was close. He was really close. I don’t know if he would have made Game 7, honestly. I think it would have been to the deadline. In retrospect, I don’t know if Dame should have played (May 2). He was fine. And I just love that he had the clearance to play, for sure. He couldn’t have hurt himself (worse). But you can see, it took late into the game for him to get any rhythm. I just love the mentality of both of them. I mean, Giannis was doing everything. You have no idea the work he was trying to do to get back on the floor. His teammates, they all saw it.”

What is the process now? Do you look at it like you’re taking a new job?

“I don’t even know how to answer that. I have the job. This summer’s very important. Building everything around the players the right way. Building the team the right way. Doing everything. Being all together. It will be nice for me, having the understanding of our guys and how to use them, how to play them. So, yeah, there’s some advantages.”

Do you feel this nucleus can contend for a championship?

“Yeah, I think our key guys are key guys. It’s too early for me to say that around those guys, ‘Do you need change?’ But we didn’t win it, and so there’s always going to be changes, but it’s too early for me right now to evaluate that.”

You had exit interviews with Giannis and Damian Lillard — how nice is it that they’re both committed for next year? 

“It’s great. Think about it, Giannis worked out all summer not knowing he was going to have Dame. Dame worked out a little bit, not knowing he was going to have Giannis. Khris, the same way. Now all three of them get to work out this summer knowing some of the things we’re going to do. I told Giannis and Dame I’m going to send them things all summer we’re working on for them to work on. And they both were very excited about that. I’m assuming Khris will like the same thing. That gives us an advantage.”

Do you need more athletes on the roster? 

“Yeah, first of all I thought conditioning played a part as well. And you can just see it. Hell, they could see it. And secondly, yeah I think (the Pacers) were a more athletic team than us. They were one of the most athletic teams in the NBA, as well. So every year, you make changes; again, it’s too early for me to tell you what those changes are going to be, but clearly athleticism is probably one of the things at the top. But we don’t need track athletes. We can go get those from anywhere … we need skill athletes. I think that’ll be a very high focus for us.”

You made changes to the staff when you were hired. What does that process look like for determining your staff for next season?

“Yeah, I don’t know. I’m going to make a lot of calls. I’m just going to evaluate the staff that I have here. And then, we’re just going to move forward from there, so it’s too early.”

You said you stay out of trainer’s rooms. But you’re the head coach; do you want to be involved in picking out the training staff?

“No. That’s more of (general manager) Jon (Horst)’s area and, you know, obviously I work with them, so if there are things that I see that I think we can get better at, I’m going to bring them up. But coaches, I’m telling you, you just cannot get in the trainer’s room. It never leads to a good place for you.”

Speaking of Jon Horst, he has been connected to other potential job openings. What is that process like to manage?

“We’re going to work today. So I’m hoping none of that happens. I’m being honest. I don’t know enough about it all. You know, it’s funny, I don’t read that stuff because I just don’t need it. But it’s out there. It’s something Jon will probably have to answer at some point. I’m expecting Jon to be here. I really am.”

The expectation was to win a championship. Is it inherent disappointment in not attaining that?

“When you put yourself in a category of you want to win a championship, then … there’s either a happy landing or there’s a plane crash. There’s no in-between. Obviously with the injuries, there’s nothing you can do about that. We were not gonna win with our injuries. But that still doesn’t mean you’re not just as disappointed, you know, because you are. You don’t have a lot of opportunities to win titles. You just don’t. There’s players and coaches who go through their whole career and never have an opportunity. This one, because of injury, was taken away from us more than we lost it. Next year, we hope to be healthy and we can go after it. But, still disappointed.”

Latest article