TOUGH START Inside Milwaukee Bucks’ chaotic locker room with Doc Rivers’ ‘philosophy and communication’ causing issues month inc

Another NBA player, who used to play for the Bucks, said he could sense annoyance with Rivers among his ex-teammates

DOC Rivers’ run with the Milwaukee Bucks has been a rough one so far.

A Bucks player has opened up to The U.S. Sun about the veteran NBA head coach’s first month in charge of the team, which left the locker room questioning his philosophy and leadership.

Doc Rivers' 'philosophy and communication' have caused issues in the locker room, a Milwaukee Bucks player told The U.S. Sun

Doc Rivers’ ‘philosophy and communication’ have caused issues in the locker room, a Milwaukee Bucks player told The U.S. SunCredit: Getty

Rivers replaced Adrian Griffin as the Bucks head coach in late January

Rivers replaced Adrian Griffin as the Bucks head coach in late JanuaryCredit: Getty

Giannis Antentokounmpo and Co. are 7-7 under Rivers

Giannis Antentokounmpo and Co. are 7-7 under RiversCredit: Getty

The Bucks traded for NBA star Damian Lillard before the start of the 2023-24 NBA season

The Bucks traded for NBA star Damian Lillard before the start of the 2023-24 NBA seasonCredit: Getty
Rivers, 62, replaced Adrian Griffin in late January, just eight months after the ex-Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls assistant secured the first head-coaching job of his career.

Griffin, who got to navigate the growing pains of the newly-created Giannis Antetokounmpo-Damian Lillard super duo, left Milwaukee with a 30-13 record, tied for the second-best in the NBA.

Entering March, the Bucks are 39-21 — 8.0 games behind the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics — despite winning four straight games since the 2024 All-Star Weekend ended.

A Bucks player told The U.S. Sun that frustration spread in the locker room seeing the gap to the Celtics growing, particularly as Griffin’s firing came as a surprise to many.

“It’s very hard to get to coach a team close to halfway through the season, and it’s not going to best way so far,” the player said.

“We have had some horrible games, and the coach’s philosophy is not very clear, so many players are confused and don’t really know where we are heading to.”

Rivers took over 10 games before the All-Star break.

The Bucks went 3-7 during that stint, blowing leads and suffering a humiliating 113-110 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies — who missed more than half of their roster — along the way.

Rivers boldly chose to question his players’ effort after the Grizzlies matchup, the last game before the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend.

“We had some guys here,” he said. “We had some guys in Cabo.”

The criticism didn’t sit well with Rivers’ new players — neither did his recent revelation that two mysterious teams had pursued his services before he signed with Milwaukee.

“It’s a weird dynamic, and it’s a bit hard to hear and be criticized like we got blamed by the coach in recent weeks,” the Bucks player said.
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“It’s also a bit weird, to say the least, to have him speak so much to the media since he got here.”

“I mean… the goal is to focus on our team and talk about us. Not about other approaches you had during the season before signing with us.

“It’s a bit ‘all over the place’ and the communication with the group is not the best.”

Rivers does have players in his corner, as evidenced by Patrick Beverley coming to his defense when First Take analyst JJ Redick slammed the Bucks head coach’s public comments.

Redick, who played for Rivers in the NBA, said that “excuses” and “throwing teams under the bus” have been a theme of his career.

Beverley then went after the ex-sharpshooter on social media, suggesting he was being ungrateful to his former boss.

“This man Doc actually saved your career,” Beverley, who landed on the Bucks before the February trade deadline, posted on X.

“Started you when no one else wanted 2. And u retire go on TV and say that.”

But the Bucks player who spoke with The U.S. Sun said that Rivers needs to put in more effort connecting with the locker room.

“We all know that he isn’t the best at communicating in public, and in private, and that could backfire at him if things don’t get better,” the player said.

“The unity isn’t there so far, and it doesn’t feel like our coach is the leader, the guide of our group, so far.”

Another NBA player, who has played for both the Bucks and Rivers in the past, confirmed there’s a sense of annoyance with the new head coach among some of his ex-teammates who are still in Milwaukee.

“I talk to most of them still since I left the team and the city, and many of them aren’t satisfied or feel their best in his game plans,” he said.

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