Joe Prunty

American basketball player and coach

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Joe Prunty
Personal information
Born (1969-02-12) February 12, 1969 (age 52)
Sunnyvale, California
Career information
High schoolFremont (Sunnyvale, California)
CollegeCal Poly San Luis Obispo
Coaching career1996–present
Career history
As coach:
19962005San Antonio Spurs (assistant)
20052008Dallas Mavericks (assistant)
20082010Portland Trail Blazers (assistant)
20102013Cleveland Cavaliers (assistant)
2013–2014Brooklyn Nets (assistant)
20142018Milwaukee Bucks (assistant)
2018Milwaukee Bucks (interim)
2018–2019Phoenix Suns (assistant)
2021-Atlanta Hawks (assistant)
Career highlights and awards
As assistant coach:

Joe Prunty (born February 12, 1969) is an American professional basketball coach who is currently an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Before that, he most notably served as the interim head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018. Additionally, he served as the head coach of the United States men's national basketball team as they qualified for FIBA AmeriCup in February 2021[1] and was the head coach of the Great Britain men's national basketball team from June 2013 until September 2017.[2][3]

Early career

Prunty was born in Sunnyvale, California and graduated from Fremont High School. He played college basketball at De Anza College in Cupertino, California before going on to earn a bachelor's degree in Speech Communications from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He began his coaching career in 1992 in San Diego, California, coaching at University of San Diego High School and St. Augustine High School. During his time as a high school coach, Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton, former Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior, and former Chicago White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin were among his players.[4][5] Before being a professional basketball coach, he previously worked as a beer salesman for Anheuser-Busch products in San Diego.[6]

NBA coaching career

While coaching at the high school level, former University of San Diego head coach Hank Egan informed Prunty of a possible opening in the San Antonio Spurs organization.[7] Based on this tip, Prunty joined the coaching staff of the Spurs as an assistant video coordinator. He left briefly in April 1997 to become an assistant coach at the University of San Diego but returned to the Spurs for the 1997-1998 season, eventually being promoted to assistant coach in 2000.[5] During his time with the Spurs, the team won championships in 1999, 2003, and 2005.

In 2006, he left San Antonio to become a Dallas Mavericks assistant coach, becoming a part of the staff of former Spurs assistant coach Avery Johnson. The team made it to the 2006 NBA Finals, losing to the Miami Heat in six games.[8] The team ended the 2006–07 season with the best record in the league, led by MVP Dirk Nowitzki, but were upset in the first round of the playoffs by Don Nelson's Golden State Warriors.[9] Prunty left the Mavericks for the Portland Trail Blazers[10][11] in 2008 when Avery Johnson was fired[12] and replaced with Rick Carlisle.[13]

While Prunty was a member of the Trail Blazers' coaching staff, the team had back-to-back 50 win seasons for the first time since the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 NBA seasons. He also served as the Blazers' head coach during the NBA Summer League in 2008 and 2009.[10] He joined the Cleveland Cavaliers as an assistant coach in 2010, spending three seasons as a member of Byron Scott's team. On August 20, 2013, he was hired as an assistant coach by the Brooklyn Nets.[14] Nets' head coach Jason Kidd was suspended for the first two games of the season after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor DWI charge stemming from an incident in July 2012.[15] Kidd named Prunty to serve as acting head coach for the team's season opener against Cleveland Cavaliers and their home opener against Miami Heat. The team went 1–1 in these games with a loss against Cleveland and a win against Miami.

Kidd left the Nets for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014 and Prunty joined the staff there. On December 20, 2015, Prunty was named the interim head coach for 17 games as Kidd underwent hip surgery.[16] The team went 8–9 during that time,[17] a significant improvement after beginning the season 10–18. With Prunty at the helm, the team played at a faster pace with a greater emphasis on offensive rebounds, which resulted in a much improved offensive rating.[18] The Bucks reached the playoffs during the 2016–17 season, losing to the Toronto Raptors in six games. After beginning the 2017–18 season with a disappointing 23–22 record and falling to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, head coach Kidd was fired,[19] and Prunty was named interim head coach on January 22, 2018 before they began their game against the Phoenix Suns.[20] After winning that game, for the rest of the season onward, the Bucks would improve just enough to gain the 7th seed of the Eastern Conference in the 2018 NBA Playoffs, facing against the Boston Celtics in the first round. While Milwaukee would be competitive throughout the series, they would ultimately lose the first round 4-3. Prunty would remain with the Bucks until May 17, when Mike Budenholzer would be named his replacement. On June 4, 2018, it was announced that Prunty would join the Phoenix Suns as their leading assistant coach.[21] He along with other Suns assistants were relieved of their duties in April 2019, following the firing of head coach Igor Kokoškov.[22] On July 23, 2021, the Atlanta Hawks announced that Prunty would be joining Nate McMillan's staff as an assistant coach.[23]

British national team career

Joe Prunty was named the head coach of the Great Britain men's national basketball team in June 2013 after an extensive interview process following Chris Finch's resignation. The choice was initially somewhat controversial as Prunty had little previous international coaching experience.[24] Prunty's first campaign as GB head coach was summer 2013. Despite being without top players Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Joel Freeland, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Prunty began his tenure with a 61-55 win over Puerto Rico in an International Test Match at The Copper Box Arena, London. The team went on to upset Israel in their first game of Eurobasket 2013, earning a dramatic overtime victory.[25] However, Great Britain ended the group phase with a 2–3 record, not good enough to advance. Because of this result, UK Sport cut its funding for the team.

Despite the future of the British national team looking bleak due to the budget constraints, Prunty stayed on as coach as the team attempted to qualify for Eurobasket 2015. The cut in funding meant the team could not afford the insurance costs required to recruit top players, had to cancel training camp, and required players to sleep in dorm beds and live on £15 a day.[26] After losses to Bosnia and Iceland, the team failed to qualify for the tournament.[27]

With funding from Sport England,[28] the team set out in 2016 to qualify for Eurobasket 2017. Their 3–3 record in their group was good enough to ensure that they were one of the four top runners-up in all of the qualifying groups. For the 2017 tournament, they ended up in the very tough Group D, facing off against Belgium, Latvia, Russia, Serbia, and hosts Turkey.[29] Despite keeping most of the games close, the team went 0–5 at the tournament and were not able to advance to the knockout phase.[30]

Due to changes from FIBA in the qualifying process for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics that conflict with the NBA,[31] Prunty was forced to step down as head coach of the Great Britain men's national team after Eurobasket 2017. Under Prunty's tenure, the team went 12–42 overall with a 5–15 record in FIBA games.[32] Despite the lackluster record, Prunty is credited with creating a close communication culture within the team that kept the program afloat during difficult times, with at least one player on record saying he would not have considered playing for the team without Prunty as head coach.[33][34]

Head coaching record


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Milwaukee 2017–18 37 21 16 .568 3rd in Central 7 3 4 .429 Lost in First Round
Career 37 21 16 .568 7 3 4 .429

Personal life

Prunty and his wife Laura have been married since 2002. They have two children, Luke and Emma.[5][35]

On June 23, 2021, Suns coach Monty Williams credited Prunty as being a partial inspiration for a Western Conference Finals game-winning inbounds alley-oop play set up between Jae Crowder and Deandre Ayton.[36]


  1. ^ "Hawks Finalize Coaching Staff And Announce New Hires And Promotions Within Basketball Operations". Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  2. ^ Neter, Sam (June 12, 2013). "Joe Prunty Officially Named as New GB Senior Men's Head Coach". Hoopsfix. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  3. ^ Woods, Mark. "Search for Prunty Successor Under Way". MVP. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Joe Prunty Joins Reiter's Block". Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Joe Prunty". Retrieved July 24, 2009.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Gardner, Charles F. "Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty got NBA coaching start with Spurs". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  8. ^ "Wade Leads Heat to First NBA Championship". Archived from the original on December 1, 2010.
  9. ^ McCauley, Jane. "Warriors Upset Mavs to Clinch First-Round Series". Associated Press.
  10. ^ a b "McMillan gets a new assistant". Portland Tribune. July 7, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2009.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Mavs, Johnson part ways after team's playoff ouster". April 30, 2008. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  13. ^ Conway, James P. "Mavericks Coach: Dallas Hires Rick Carlisle, But Bigger Problems Loom". Bleacher Report. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  14. ^ "Brookyln Nets Finalize Coaching Staff". Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  15. ^ Mazzeo, Mike (October 4, 2013). "Jason Kidd suspended two games". Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  16. ^ "Bucks' kidd taking leave of absence to rehab back". Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. December 20, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  17. ^ "Coach Jason Kidd returns to Bucks sideline". Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  18. ^ Treske, Jordan (January 18, 2016). "Milwaukee Bucks: Examining The Progress Under Joe Prunty". Behind the Buck Pass. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  19. ^ "Bucks Relieve Jason Kidd Of Head Coaching Duties". January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  20. ^ Armas, Genaro C. (January 22, 2018). "Milwaukee Bucks fire coach Jason Kidd". Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  21. ^ "Ex-Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty to become Suns' lead assistant". June 4, 2018. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
  22. ^ "Phoenix Suns fire assistants after dismissing Igor Kokoskov". Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. April 23, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  23. ^ "Hawks Finalize Coaching Staff And Announce New Hires And Promotions Within Basketball Operations". Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  24. ^ Woods, Mark. "Joe Prunty in Line for GB Coaching Gig". MVP. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  25. ^ Woods, Mark (September 4, 2013). "Joe Prunty takes the lead for Britain". Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  26. ^ "Great Britain's Kieron Achara reveals £15-a-day struggle". BBC Sport. August 19, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  27. ^ "GB Fail to Qualify for Eurobasket Finals after Iceland Defeat". Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  28. ^ Roan, Dan (November 7, 2014). "GB Basketball secures emergency funding from Sport England". BBC Sport. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  29. ^ "Eurobasket 2017: Great Britain drawn to play group games in Istanbul". BBC Sport. November 22, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  30. ^ "EuroBasket 2017: Great Britain men's results & standings". BBC Sport. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  31. ^ Ziller, Tom (July 13, 2017). "FIBA made a shortsighted change that could doom global basketball". SB Nation. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  32. ^ "Library Services: Research Collections: Basketball Heritage". Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  33. ^ Neter, Sam (December 11, 2016). "Soko: If it Wasn't for Prunty I Wouldn't Play for GB". Hoopsfix. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  34. ^ Woods, Mark. "Joe P Game for One Final Family Trip". MVP. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  35. ^ @CavsFredMcLeod (July 16, 2012). "hands together for asst coach, Joe Prunty & wife Laura, as baby daughter, Emma Lorraine joins Cavs family...big brother, Luke is pumped!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  36. ^
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