ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks are about to experience another unique test.
One of the youngest teams in the league will have to play without coach Jason Kidd as he recovers from right hip surgery.
It will be up to Joe Prunty, a longtime NBA assistant, to lead the Bucks while Kidd is out. Kidd has said he hopes to return to the office in a couple weeks, though it’s unclear when he might be able to coach in a game again.
There is no doubt that he’s still in charge, though.
“Trust me, as soon as soon as we are able to be talking with him, we’ll definitely be in touch,” Prunty said Monday.
Kidd was scheduled to have surgery in the morning in New York.
The Bucks made the announcement after a 101-95 win on Sunday in Phoenix that wrapped up a four-game Western Conference road trip. Kidd, 42, said the injury dated to his playing days and his second stint with the Dallas Mavericks between 2008-12.
The pain has been become chronic, and periodic cortisone shots were no longer helping, Kidd said after Sunday’s game.
“The pain has been to the point where I can’t function. I’ve taken all the medicine that I can do,” Kidd said.
The task of leading the Bucks out of their early hole in the Eastern Conference falls on Prunty, who is in his 20th season in the NBA and his third year working with Kidd. Prunty assisted Kidd in Brooklyn, then followed Kidd to Milwaukee when he took the Bucks job last season.
Prunty said he will continue to call offensive plays, while assistant Sean Sweeney will draw up the defense.
“Our system is our system,” Prunty said. “There’s not an intent to make any changes at all.”
Youth, defense and depth were the hallmarks of the Bucks’ surprise run to the playoffs last season.
At 11-18, the Bucks have had more problems early on this year. Defense was a problem in the opening weeks, though the team has been better in that area of late.
The Bucks did welcome back forward Jabari Parker after he missed last year with a knee injury. Center Greg Monroe has been a welcome addition, especially offensively, after arriving as a free agent from Detroit.
The ideal Bucks starting lineup, which would also include 21-year-oldd Giannis Antetokounmpo, wouldn’t have a player older than 25.
“I think if we can put together whole games, not having lapses, I think we can be pretty good,” said forward John Henson. At 24, he’s another key member of the Bucks’ core.
The up-and-down season has included home wins over NBA powers Cleveland and Golden State, and a road loss last to the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the worst teams in the league.
Perhaps Prunty can get a few tips from the Warriors’ Luke Walton, that team’s interim coach while Steve Kerr recovers from back surgery. Golden State under Walton started the season an NBA-record 24-0 before the streak was snapped earlier this month by the Bucks.
“It wouldn’t be bad for Joe to take what Luke has done,” Kidd joked.
Even-keeled and composed, Prunty isn’t viewing his shot on the sideline as a showcase for himself.
“Absolutely not. I don’t know what other people are going to think, but for me this is about the Milwaukee Bucks,” he said.
He’ll make his debut on Wednesday when the Bucks host the Philadelphia 76ers.