Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond said Tuesday that Scott Skiles is out as head coach. Assistant coach Jim Boylan will take over for the rest of the season, Hammond said.
According to The Associated Press, Hammond and Skiles met on Monday after practice. Hammond said, “After some honest discussion, we both came to the conclusion that it was best to part ways. It is never an easy decision to make, but in the end a decision we felt was both for both parties.”
NBA.com’s David Aldridge reported on Monday that, barring something “dramatic,” Skiles was not going to return to coach the team when his contract expired at the end of this season. (The note on Skiles is in the “Dribbles” section of Aldridge’s column.)
Aldridge cited “multiple league sources” that Skiles had told the Bucks he did not want a contract extension and was resigned to the fact he would be somewhere else in 2013-14.
Milwaukee is 16-16, tied with the Boston Celtics for the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks and Celtics lead the Philadelphia 76ers by 2½ games for the final position.
Hammond downplayed the notion that he and Skiles did not see eye-to-eye or that the locker room dynamic was less than ideal between the coach and his players.
“Scott and I did not have a frosty relationship. Scott did not hate this team,” Hammond said. “We’re not a team in dire straits … we’re expecting good things to happen.”
Milwaukee has lost four straight games after a strong start and Skiles’ defensive-first approach didn’t seem to fit the styles of his two high-scoring guards, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, who prefer to get up and down the court.
The Bucks were in the middle of the league, 15th, in points allowed per game and ranked 18th in field-goal percentage defense. Both of those marks are below where Skiles would have liked the team to be.
Skiles’ big success this year would be the breakout campaign of cener Larry Sanders, who has emerged as a rebounder and shot-blocker deluxe over the past few weeks. Sanders has reached double figures in rebounds in five of his last eight games—including a career-best 20 boards against the Celtics on Dec. 21—and leads the NBA in blocks at 3.07 per game.
Skiles was 162-182 in four-plus seasons in Milwaukee and the Bucks made their lone playoff appearance under Skiles in 2010—a seven-game first-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Skiles also coached the Phoenix Suns for 2 ½ seasons, going 116-79. He was 40-22 after replacing Danny Ainge early in the 1999-2000 season and led the Suns to the second round of the playoffs. Phoenix won 51 games in 2001-01 but was knocked out in the first round.
He later coached the Chicago Bulls for four-plus seasons from 2003-08. He took the Bulls to three straight playoff appearances from 2005-07, reaching the second round in 2007.
Coincidentally, it was Boylan who replaced Skiles on an interim basis in Chicago, leading the team to a 24-32 record to close out the 2007-08 season.
Steve Aschburner of NBA.com reported Tuesday that the rift between Skiles and the Bucks may have begun over the offseason, when owner Herb Kohl declined to offer Skiles a contract extension and instead opted to allow Skiles and Hammond to enter the final years of their contracts as lame ducks.
According to Aschburner, Skiles tried to arrange to be let out of his contract in Milwaukee during the offseason in order to pursue the vacant coaching position with the Orlando Magic.
Boylan will make his coaching debut with the Bucks Tuesday night when Milwaukee hosts the Suns.
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