The Bucks announced Friday that they have reached an agreement to hire Drew as their new head coach. General manager John Hammond said Drew’s track record in Atlanta and experience as an assistant coach and former player made him the right choice.
“We look forward to what he will bring to this franchise and we welcome him and his family to Milwaukee,” Hammond said.
Drew was 128-102 in Atlanta, and the Hawks reached the postseason in each of his three seasons. But general manager Danny Ferry, who inherited Drew when he took over last year, opted to let the coach go after the season as he continues his overhaul of the Hawks.
Milwaukee made the playoffs this year for the first time since 2010, only to be swept by the Miami Heat.
The sweep was part of a late-season collapse that cost Boylan any chance of getting the Bucks job permanently. After being two games over .500 on March 19, Milwaukee won just four of its last 16 regular-season games. It was Milwaukee’s third straight year with a losing record, and eighth time in the last nine years.
Drew does not have the name recognition of Jerry Sloan or Stan Van Gundy, both of whom the Bucks tried to lure out of retirement. But he left Atlanta with a winning record, and consistently got more out of his teams than many expected. In his first season, the Hawks upset Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs, then took the Chicago Bulls to six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
His understated demeanor could be just what the Bucks need, too, after a tumultuous season that included Skiles’ departure, a mid-season trade that sent promising young forward Tobias Harris to Orlando for J.J. Redick, and the implosion down the stretch that many blamed on players being more concerned with their own futures than the team’s results.
Redick and Mike Dunleavy are unrestricted free agents, while Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent. Monta Ellis has until June 20 to exercise an $11 million player option.
Despite going 84-64 in his first two seasons and reaching the playoffs both years, Drew was not offered an extension last summer. An assistant to previous coach Mike Woodson who moved up when his boss was fired in 2010, he was seen as part of the old regime. With his contract expiring June 30, Drew was essentially a lame duck this season _ and having only three players who were under contract for the upcoming season didn’t help.
Still, Atlanta finished 44-38 before losing to Indiana in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
“I thought we had a really good season given what our circumstances were. They weren’t the best,” Drew said after the Hawks were eliminated. “Whether I’m back here or not, I don’t know. The one thing I will say is I’ve had a great run here.”