Bucks’ Budenholzer in health and safety protocols

Sports
Mike Budenholzer

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer yells from the sidelines during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021. The Bucks won 102-95. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Mike Budenholzer has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and Giannis Antetokounpo is sidelined with an illness unrelated to COVID-19, leaving the Milwaukee Bucks without their coach and star player Wednesday night against Toronto.

Assistant Darvin Ham will serve as acting coach.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.9 points and 11.5 rebounds. The Bucks didn’t specify the nature of the NBA Finals MVP’s illness.

Guards Grayson Allen and George Hill, along with forward Pat Connaughton, also entered protocols on Wednesday.

Reserves Jordan Nwora, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Semi Ojeleye, who had previously been unavailable due to the protocols, were all cleared to return to the lineup, Ham said.

“My job is to keep the bus moving forward,” Ham said. “These are some unfortunate times and unfortunate circumstances. I’m not looking to make a big splash and prove to the world that I can really coach. I know that already. I’m very comfortable in my role here.”

Ham said he stepped in for Budenholzer in 2017 when the pair coached together with the Hawks in Atlanta and Budenholzer had to serve a one-game suspension for bumping an official.

Ham, a former player who spent time with the Bucks, has been an NBA assistant for 11 years. He said he learned of Budenholzer’s positive test after a practice session on Tuesday evening.

“We have a tight-knit group. It would be nice to have Giannis, but he’s dealing with his own issues,” Ham said. “We have a lot of strong leadership in that locker room across the board. They are going to help me as much as I’m going to help them.”

The Bucks are coming off a 115-106 loss at home to the Detroit Pistons, who had the league’s worst record entering the game, on Monday night. The defeat ended Milwaukee’s six-game winning streak.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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