What does the Milwaukee Bucks' firing of Adrian Griffin say about their mindset?

Dec 29, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA;
Dec 29, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Adrian Griffin tenure with the Milwaukee Bucks came to a shocking ending on Tuesday, as the team announced that they had dismissed the first-year head coach 43 games into the season. The news of Griffin's firing seemingly came out of nowhere, with most fans willing to give Griffin a grace period in his first season as head coach and expecting the team to do the same.

The Bucks, however, did not see it that way and decided to move on from Griffin. The decision says a lot about where the organization's mindset currently stands.

The Milwaukee Bucks moving on from Adrian Griffin shows where their mindset is as an organization

Despite many people not wanting to admit it, the Bucks needed to move on from their head coach. The most prominent reason a change was needed was the defensive decline the team had seen this season. Following the Jrue Holiday trade for Damian Lillard this offseason, the Bucks were expected to decline slightly defensively. The decline still was much more drastic than anybody could have expected. The Bucks currently rank 22nd in defensive rating, which is a significant drop-off for a team that ranked fourth in the same category only one season ago.

Ultimately, the Bucks found it unacceptable to be giving up so many open looks. With perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez on the team, it was stunning to see how many times a lapse would occur on that side of the floor.

It took guts for the Bucks to hire a first-year head coach to lead a championship-contending team. What took more guts was for them to admit their mistake and dismiss Griffin. The willingness to make that move shows the organization has a championship-or-bust mindset.

The reports currently surfacing from The Athletic (subscription required) are that Doc Rivers is the leading candidate to replace Griffin. Despite criticism over the last several seasons for playoff disappointments, Rivers has won a championship as a head coach with the Celtics in 2008. Depending on whether or not the Bucks are considered a super team, Rivers may be able to lead another super team to a title in Milwaukee.

Regardless of whether or not the team rides with Rivers, a decision will likely come soon. With the coaching search happening mid-season, the team doesn't have the luxury of being able to take their time. While Rivers may not be the ideal hire to most fans, that's part of being in this position in January.

The organization deserves credit for making a tough choice to move on from Griffin. With the ages of many veterans on the roster rising, the Bucks know the championship window isn't as open as it used to be. The time to win is now, and they couldn't afford to wait on Griffin to see if he could make that happen.

Stay tuned for updates as the coaching search is expected to move quickly in Milwaukee.