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Bucks fire Stotts, promote Krystkowiak
Mar 15, 2007 - 6:01:37 AM

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MILWAUKEE - As usual, Terry Stotts ran the Milwaukee Bucks' practice, trying to keep his downtrodden team motivated as they near the end of an injury-riddled season.

It was only afterward Wednesday that players found out their coach was fired and one of his assistants, Larry Krystkowiak, had been given a multiyear deal to replace him.

"I didn't see it happening," Bucks forward Michael Redd said. "I'm just focused on supporting him and supporting out team through tough times — you know, just bear it out. But obviously, the organization made a decision, and I support it 100 percent."

Milwaukee is last in the Central Division at 23-41 and among the NBA's worst defensive teams. The season seemed to hit bottom when Bucks center Andrew Bogut made an obscene gesture toward the home fans after getting ejected from a game on Monday night.

Krystkowiak will work his first game as an NBA head coach against San Antonio on Thursday night.

"We're excited to move ahead with Larry as our new head coach," Bucks general manager Larry Harris said.

Before Krystkowiak's hiring was announced, Redd said the team doesn't necessarily need to hire a big-name coach to lead them on a turnaround.

Redd knows where he wants to go as a player, and doesn't much seem to care who takes him there.

"I just want someone to come in and do the job, that's all," Redd said. "Win. When I signed back two years ago with this team, that was the only agenda that I had. And I want to see us prosperous, and get back to the days where we were a couple years ago."

Krystkowiak, 42, was originally hired by the Bucks in June 2006 as an assistant to Stotts after coaching at his alma mater, Montana — where he guided the team to two straight NCAA tournament appearances, including a first-round upset over Nevada in 2006. He also coached in the CBA.

His promotion comes at a time when he was being mentioned as a candidate for the open coaching job at the University of Utah.

Krystkowiak thanked Stotts for giving him the opportunity to come to Milwaukee.

"Becoming an NBA head coach was my No. 1 goal when I went into coaching and I welcome the challenges that lie ahead of me," said Krystkowiak, who played nine seasons in the NBA, including four in Milwaukee. "This team has a great deal of potential and I'm eager to move forward."

The Bucks were stunted by injuries this season, and at one point in mid-January were playing without four players projected as starters going into the season.

"Terry has done the best he could in a difficult situation, especially with all of our injuries," Harris said. "I felt it was in the best interest of our organization to make the decision now and move forward, rather than wait until the end of the regular season."

Stotts hoped the Bucks would rebound when Redd returned on Feb. 20 after missing 20 games with a knee injury. Instead, their season hit the low point with Bogut's outburst on Monday night. The league fined Bogut, the top pick in the 2005 draft, $25,000 earlier Wednesday.

"I want to thank Senator Kohl and Larry Harris for giving me the opportunity to coach in Milwaukee," Stotts said in a statement. "I understand this is a part of the business and I wish the Bucks organization well in the future."

Stotts was hired as the team's ninth coach in June 2005 after Terry Porter was let go. He compiled a 63-83 record in less than two seasons.

Milwaukee squeaked into the playoffs last year despite having four new starters from the previous season. The Bucks made another big move this offseason, trading point guard T.J. Ford to Toronto for forward Charlie Villanueva.

But Villanueva has missed significant time because of injuries, along with Redd — who hurt a tendon in his left knee Jan. 5 — and forward Bobby Simmons, who is out for the year with foot and ankle injuries. Mo Williams also missed time with a shoulder injury.

Milwaukee went 3-17 without Redd, its leading scorer.

"Terry did the best he could with what he had," Redd said. "(He) worked very hard, and his staff worked very hard, to prepare us. That's all you can ask for."

Redd said the team has to remain positive for the rest of the season.

"We have 18 games left," Redd said. "Just play as hard as we can at this point, put on a good show, performance, especially at home. Do the best we can do, and continue to have fun while you're playing."

AP Sports Writer Colin Fly contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 - MOP Squad Sports

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