The Milwaukee Bucks fired head coach Jason Kidd on Monday, the team announced.
Kidd told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo called him about 15 minutes before Kidd was officially notified he’d been fired by the Bucks and offered to help save his job.
“He called me and said, ‘Coach, this isn’t right what they’re about to do, but (they) are gonna let you go,’ ” Kidd said.
Kidd says he told Antetokounmpo that “I had a feeling that was gonna take place.”
To which Antetokounmpo replied: “What can I do? I’ll call the owners, I’ll call my agent.”
Kidd said he told him, “There’s nothing you can do. All you can do is tell the truth. That’s it.”
Kidd said he thanked Antetokounmpo for his loyalty and that he was “thankful to be able to coach him and help him become the player he is today. And I know when our paths cross again, he’ll be much better.”
Kidd said he was officially informed he’d been fired about 15 minutes later when he met with general manager Jon Horst and team president Peter Feigin at a pizza restaurant.
Assistant Joe Prunty will coach the team Monday night against the Phoenix Suns. He will be named interim coach, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“We appreciate everything that Jason has done for the Bucks organization, but we have decided to make a coaching change,” Horst said in a statement. “We believe that a fresh approach and a change in leadership are needed to continue elevating our talented team towards the next level, bringing us closer to our goal of competing for championships.
“Jason led a historic turnaround during his first season and would guide our team to two playoff appearances. He also played a meaningful role in helping to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee. We thank him for all of his contributions and wish him the best.”
Horst then released a letter to fans, in which he said the decision to fire Kidd was made with the “unanimous support of ownership.”
“Many factors went into this decision,” the letter continued, “but ultimately we decided that a fresh approach and a change in leadership are needed to continue elevating our team to the next level and bringing us closer to our goal of winning championships. We believe that making this change now is important for the organization and gives our players the best chance to reach their full potential this season and beyond.”
Despite a talented roster that features Antetokounmpo and recent trade acquisition Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks are 23-22 and currently are the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee has lost four of its past five games entering Monday’s home game against Phoenix.
Kidd was 139-152 overall as the Bucks’ coach, leading the team to playoff appearances in his first season with the team (2014-15) and in 2016-17. Kidd, who also coached the Nets for one season in 2013-14 has a 183-190 career record.
Kidd is a 2018 nominee for the Basketball Hall of Fame after a 19-season NBA career in which he won a Rookie of the Year Award (1994-95, shared with Grant Hill) and was a 10-time All-Star.