Report: Some around NBA surprised by Bucks firing known Giannis Antetokounmpo favorite

Orel Dizon
3 Min Read
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Milwaukee Bucks’ 2023-24 season ended on a bitter note, the organization has started to restructure its coaching staff, reportedly letting go of assistant coaches that Doc Rivers inherited when he was hired in the middle of the campaign.

Among those who have apparently been released are Josh Oppenheimer, D.J. Bakker and Sidney Dobner.

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, one of the more surprising moves was the dismissal of Oppenheimer, who is known for being a Giannis Antetokounmpo favorite.

“The departure of Oppenheimer, in particular, surprised some in NBA coaching circles because he is known to be a Giannis Antetokounmpo favorite,” Stein wrote on his Substack.

The 55-year-old coach first joined the franchise in 2013 as an assistant to Larry Drew and stayed on as an assistant to Jason Kidd. It’s worth noting that Antetokounmpo was drafted by the Bucks in the same year. So, the pair go a long way back.

Oppenheimer joined two other teams after parting ways with Milwaukee in 2016 but reunited with the franchise in 2020 under Mike Budenholzer.

Since then, the Bucks have won a championship and undergone multiple head coaching changes, but Oppenheimer had remained as a part of the coaching staff.

It’s only natural for Rivers to desire to select his own staff in the hopes that it will help him maximize the roster headlined by Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez.

On paper, such a squad should have been among the Eastern Conference favorites this season. But Milwaukee fell in the first round for the second straight year. After losing to the Miami Heat in the 2023 playoffs, the Bucks fell to the Indiana Pacers this year.

Of course, it would be unfair to pin all the blame on Rivers, even if the Bucks had a 17-19 regular-season record under his guidance in this campaign. Injuries ravaged the team, and Antetokounmpo couldn’t even suit up once in the first round of the playoffs.

It remains to be seen how the former Coach of the Year’s staff will shape up. A lot is riding on Milwaukee’s decision, especially because a lineup with Antetokounmpo and Lillard is expected to contend for a title.

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Orel's passion for sports stems from following Michael Jordan’s last title runs with the Chicago Bulls and his namesake Orel Hershiser’s Cleveland Indians tenure in the late 1990s.