When former Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Terry Stotts resigned from his post just days before the start of the 2023-24 NBA season, the organization was, in a word, blindsided by the move.
At the time of his hire, it made perfect sense for Stotts to be the veteran on first-time coach Adrian Griffin’s staff. In terms of coaching expertise, Stotts has a long resume that includes time spent as the Bucks’ assistant and head coach. His most noteworthy achievement was leading the Portland Trail Blazers to eight consecutive postseason appearances while he was their coach. Stotts was positioned to be the seasoned advisor Griffin needed to help him get into the swing of things as a neophyte tactician.
The offensive schemes headlining Damian Lillard that Stotts was able to lead are what made him famous as a coach. It was clear the hope was that he’d be able to bring some of the scoring prowess that his Portland teams possessed to Milwaukee, where one of the Bucks’ greatest problems in recent years has been their incapacity to score points when it mattered most. As transcribed by ESPN:
"“It caught all of us off guard, of course, but again, you just support him,” Griffin said. “He was a terrific guy. I learned a lot from him in a very short time. He was really good at what he does. He made a decision — a personal decision — and we just have to respect that.”"
Still, there are a few available names out there who might be able to replace Stotts if the Bucks are looking. Here are a few names the team might consider to replace Stotts.
No. 1 – Nate McMillan
Nate McMillan’s coaching journey had been a storied one, marked by resilience and a keen understanding of the game. His stints with the Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle SuperSonics, and most recently, the Atlanta Hawks had earned him a reputation as a strategist capable of steering relatively young and inexperienced teams through the ebbs and flows of an NBA season.
Just like current head coach Adrian Griffin, one of McMillan’s defining qualities was his defensive acumen. In an era often characterized by high-scoring offenses, McMillan’s emphasis on disciplined defense and strategic rotations stood out. The Bucks, armed with defensive stalwarts like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez, could benefit immensely from McMillan’s expertise in creating a defensive fortress, which could also temper Griffin’s penchant for aggressive switching on the defensive end.
Beyond his tactical prowess, McMillan brought a strong leadership presence to the table in his last few teams. Even Bucks fans know this well, considering his Hawks took a few games from the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals en route to their 2021 championship win. His calm demeanor under pressure and his reputation for building a cohesive team culture align seamlessly with the championship aspirations of the Bucks.
McMillan’s nurturing approach had been evident in the growth of young talents on his rosters throughout his coaching career, and with the Bucks harboring ambitions of sustained success while also making a run for the Larry O’Brien trophy this year, McMillan’s ability to mentor and refine the skills of emerging players like MarJon Beauchamp and Andre Jackson Jr. could prove instrumental in maintaining the team’s competitive edge.
While McMillan couldn’t secure much playoff success with his teams, perhaps his undeniable talents would be better utilized as head assistant coach for Adrian Griffin.