By GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Milwaukee Bucks fired coach Jason Kidd on Monday amid a midseason slide that has left the playoff hopeful in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
It was a surprising end to Kidd's three-plus season tenure in Milwaukee, when the Bucks made the playoffs twice. Giannis Antetokounmpo turned into an All-Star under his watch, and the Bucks were considered an emerging force in the East at the start of the season.
But the Bucks had lost four of five to fall to 23-22 going into Monday night's home game against Phoenix, and had been prone to defensive lapses especially on the perimeter. Assistant coach Joe Prunty was serving as head coach.
General manager Jon Horst, who was promoted from director of basketball operations in June, said it was time for a change and the move was made with "unanimous support of ownership."
Under Kidd, the Bucks had a regular-season record of 139-152.
"We appreciate everything that Jason has done for the Bucks organization, but we have decided to make a coaching change," Horst said. "We believe that a fresh approach and a change in leadership are needed to continue elevating our talented team toward the next level, bringing us closer to our goal of competing for championships."
The Bucks are hoping to get Jabari Parker back from a left knee injury that has kept him out all season. But the Bucks have largely tread water in the wide-open East even after adding talented guard Eric Bledsoe in a trade with the Suns in November.
Milwaukee is 8-12 since going a season-high five games over .500 on Dec. 9.
This is an important year for the Bucks, who are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the franchise and getting ready for the opening of a new downtown arena.
"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," Horst said.
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The Milwaukee Bucks have fired their head coach Jason Kidd.
Kidd has been with the Bucks since the 2014-15 season, compiling a record of 139-152 during his three-plus seasons in Milwaukee.
The Bucks are 8th in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 23-22 this season. The team, led by All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, has not lived up to expectations.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski says the Bucks made the decision based on "frayed relationships in organization and general non-alignment."
Bucks made move on Kidd based upon dropping into the 8th seed in the East, frayed relationships in organization and general non-alignment, league sources tell ESPN. Bucks job will be most sought after of offseason, largely because of @Giannis_An34.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 22, 2018
ESPN NBA reporter Chris Haynes tweeted that Antetokounmpo "is devastated."
Sources: Jason Kidd hasn’t been officially told yet. Giannis Antetokounmpo is devastated. https://t.co/FGaqQybJtn— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 22, 2018
Bucks assistant coach Joe Prunty will take over as the team's interim coach. Prunty coached the team for a period two years ago while Kidd was away following back surgery.