06-22-2005, 04:00 PM
Bucks fire Porter one week before NBA draft
The Milwaukee Bucks have fired Terry Porter as their head coach, less than one week before the club is due to make the first selection in the NBA Draft.
Porter was 71-93 in two seasons as the Bucks' coach, but was entering the final year of his contract.
Bucks general manager Larry Harris confirmed the move in a press release issued by the team Wednesday.
"The past six weeks have been consumed by my continued evaluation of our coaching situation and the basketball challenges going into the new season," Harris said. "I have concluded after much thought that we need to go in a new direction with respect to the head coaching position. My job is to make our team the very best it can be and that often means making difficult decisions such as this one."
Former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders is among those being mentioned as a candidate to replace Porter.
06-22-2005, 04:02 PM
Porter had a year left on deal
By Marc Stein
The Milwaukee Bucks, having already scored the No. 1 pick in next week's draft, decided Wednesday to thrust themselves into the NBA coaching sweepstakes by firing Terry Porter.
The Bucks, according to NBA front-office sources, made the unexpected move in hopes of attracting Flip Saunders or Nate McMillan -- or a similarly experienced coach -- to Milwaukee.
Another motivation, sources said, was giving Porter the chance to make a run at the Portland job. The Trail Blazers, who drafted Porter out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1985, still have an opening. Porter was entering the final season of a three-year contract with the Bucks but with no extension offer on the table.
Although they're not alone in chasing Saunders and McMillan -- Detroit has interest in both should Larry Brown leave the Pistons' bench as expected -- Milwaukee's situation could tempt a veteran.
Besides the No. 1 pick it surprisingly won in last month's lottery, setting up a choice between Utah's Andrew Bogut and North Carolina's Marvin Williams, Milwaukee is expected to re-sign shooting guard Michael Redd this summer and still have considerable leftover salary-cap room for roster upgrades. The Bucks are also cautiously optimistic that point guard T.J. Ford will be back next season after sitting out the 2004-05 season with a back injury.
Bucks general manager Larry Harris announced May 6 that Porter would be retained for the final season of his contract without an extension. Porter assistant coaches Mike Schuler and Jerome Kersey were dismissed.
In the six weeks since, sources said, the Bucks grew increasingly apprehensive about bringing Porter back as a lame-duck coach, fearing a repeat of what the Denver Nuggets endured at the start of last season with Jeff Bzdelik.
Bzdelik began the season without an extension and facing high expectations after Denver paired Kenyon Martin with Carmelo Anthony, but the Nuggets lurched to a 13-15 start amid constant speculation about Bzdelik's imminent firing.
The Bucks were one of the league's surprise teams in Porter's first season, going 41-41 in 2003-04 to earn a playoff berth, with Redd making his first All-Star team. But the Bucks sank to 30-52 under the Milwaukee native last season, generating considerable speculation that Porter would be fired immediately.
McMillan is expected to re-sign with Seattle after leading the Sonics to a 50-win season, but Portland -- and the Pistons -- hope to speak with McMillan after his current Sonics contract expires June 30.
Saunders, still owed $5.5 million next season by Minnesota, is widely considered a top candidate to replace Brown in Detroit. Saunders has already rebuffed overtures from Portland and his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.
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