Mike Budenholzer is very much in a New York state of mind.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported Sunday that the former Coach of the Year prefers the New York Knicks job over a return to the Atlanta Hawks. Berman relays that the Knicks are Budenholzer’s top choice and that he wants to live in New York. He also adds that the 48-year-old appears so disillusioned with the state of the Hawks that it is difficult to envision him coming back.
Budenholzer, who interviewed with the Knicks over the weekend, has coached the Hawks since 2013. He has certainly seen some ups and downs in his time there, presiding over a 60-win season in the 2014-15 campaign as well as a 24-win season this past year. Budenholzer also used to be Atlanta’s president of basketball operations in addition to their coach but resigned from the former position in 2017. He has two years and $13 million left on his current deal.
While Knicks are also facing an uncertain future as a rebuilding team (especially with franchise player Kristaps Porzingis nursing a torn ACL), the mega-market allure will always be there. Still, there is no guarantee that Budenholzer is at the top of their list, which is quite an impressive one.
Budenholzer interviewed with the Suns for their head coaching job earlier this week, which was unusual. You don’t often see a currently employed head coach interview with another team for a job, but Budenholzer did.
Budenholzer led the Atlanta Hawks to the top seed in the Eastern Conference in his second season on the job. The team has been trending downward since and appears to be in full rebuild mode.
Mike Budenholzer is meeting with the Phoenix Suns about their head coaching job.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that Budenholzer has been meeting with the Suns’ management and ownership since Monday. He says the expectation is that there will soon be an answer about whether or not Budenholzer will become the team’s next head coach.
Budenholzer is currently the Atlanta Hawks’ coach, which makes his meeting with the Suns unusual. But he received permission from Atlanta to speak with Phoenix.
The 48-year-old has enjoyed success with the Hawks. They reached the playoffs in his first four seasons, including a 60-win campaign in his second season where they also reached the conference finals. The Hawks are rebuilding and finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference this season.
Phoenix is in the market for a new head coach after firing Earl Watson three games into the season. They have fired three head coaches in the past six seasons. The Suns finished with the worst record in the league and will be in the mix for the No. 1 draft pick, which could help them rebuild.
Budenholzer, 48, just completed his fifth season as the Hawks’ head coach. He led the team to the playoffs in his first four seasons, including the top seed in the East and a trip to the conference finals in 2014-15.
The 2016-17 NBA season was a time of peace on earth and goodwill towards head coaches — not a single one was fired, marking the first time that had happened since at least Millard Fillmore’s presidency. But the same cannot be said about the 2017-18 campaign, as Earl Watson and David Fizdale have already walked the plank less than two months in. Here are six more coaches whose seats are rapidly warming and could be in danger of following suit.
Doc Rivers, LA Clippers
A recent report suggested that Medicial Practicioner Rivers is likely safe for this season, citing the rash of injuries that have crippled his team in recent weeks. But the ice still seems to thinning underneath him with the Clippers relapsing into their futility of decades past. Their lack of effort and creativity made for a difficult watch even when Blake Griffin was still healthy, and Rivers’ rotations have largely resembled a dart throw otherwise. Welcome to the starting lineup, CJ Williams! Jawun Evans, come on down! And what’s more is that there’s hardly been a Clipper who has improved their play this season despite the increased opportunity with all the injuries and the exit of Chris Paul … except for maybe Lou Williams and Doc’s own son Austin. Now to be fair, the loss of the team’s best offensive player in Griffin and their best defensive player in Patrick Beverley will probably move Lord Steve Ballmer to show mercy on Rivers. But enthusiasm is quickly waning as “What’s up, Doc?” becomes more of a cry of exasperation than a Bugs Bunny catchphrase.
The Atlanta Hawks have restructured their front office as promised, though Wes Wilcox will remain with the team.
According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer is relinquishing his duties as the team’s president, though he will remain as head coach. Budenholzer will still have a say on personnel matters.
Sources: Budenholzer's been willing to drop president's title, without losing strong voice in player personnel — which is what's happening. https://t.co/Hlt61N8me3
The Hawks were one of the biggest surprises in the NBA three seasons ago when they went 60-22, but they’ve been trending downwards since then. This season they went 43-39 and grabbed the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. The next head of basketball operations for the team will have multiple draft picks to try and rebuild with.
Nobody in the NBA is safe from Draymond Green’s “me against the world” mentality, not even head coaches.
Before his Atlanta Hawks played Green’s Golden State Warriors on Monday, coach Mike Budenholzer implied that the two-time All-Star didn’t necessarily have to be game planned for.
“He’s a unique player. He’s so unique, but I don’t know that he’s the guy that you game plan for,” Budenholzer said, per Chris Haynes of ESPN. “He does things just kind of so much on instinct intuitively, defensively, and rebounding and passing”
“You know, I think can you make it harder on him as a passer, can you make it more difficult for him to get the assists?” he continued. “And defensively, it doesn’t matter, you have to take care of the ball every night. He’s good [with] instincts and all those things, but game plan — Curry and Thompson are the guys, and he’s great at finding them and creating opportunities for them. So he’s a big part of their group.”
Green had the last laugh though as he finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and four steals in a 119-111 victory for the Warriors to sweep the season series with the Hawks. After the game, Green wasted no time in firing back when he was asked how he felt about Budenholzer’s comments.
“And that’s exactly why they can’t beat us,” Green chimed. “That’s exactly why they won’t. Don’t game plan for me.”
Budenholzer’s comments seemed more like a testament to how difficult it is to strategize for Green’s unpredictable, visceral style of play. But of course Green has a history of using opposing head coaches’ perceived slights at him as motivation and has also beefed with owners and fans alike in just the last month alone. You do you, Draymond.
Dennis Schroder was benched for almost the entire second half of Monday night’s loss to the Golden State Warriors, and the Atlanta Hawks point guard would like a word with his coach about it.
Schroder was pulled from the game immediately following a verbal exchange with teammate Dwight Howard. The argument came after Howard turned the ball over on a bad pass with the Hawks leading 70-69. As Schroder and Howard debated about what went wrong, Stephen Curry quickly dribbled down the court and buried a 3-pointer.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, who was heard telling Schroder “that’s what I’m talking about” after Curry hit the 3-pointer, called the decision to bench Schroder despite his 23 first-half points a coach’s decision.
Schroder conceded that the play where he was arguing with Howard “can’t happen,” but he said he would like an explanation from Budenholzer.
“I don’t understand coach’s decision. I want to be on the court,” Schroder said. “Maybe I’m too competitive. I’m just trying to be competitive and win games. We have to figure it out, me and coach. I want to talk about it. Dwight’s got to be in there too. Get on the same page.”
Howard said he would be open to such a meeting.
“Listen, we are a team right?” he said. “It’s OK if we have conversations. It’s not always conflict when you have a conversation with your coach or a team meeting. That’s what you are supposed to do. By him wanting to have a meeting, it’s great. It’s great for our team. It’s great for each other. We’re all open to it. It’s not always bad when you have a conversation.”
The Hawks ended up losing 119-111, which was their sixth loss in their last eight games. They are currently 34-29 and hold the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The National Basketball Referees Association wants Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer suspended for making contact with an official during Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Budenholzer received a technical foul and was ejected for bumping referee Ben Taylor during the second quarter of the game after getting upset with the lack of a foul call.
Budenholzer felt the ejection was excessive for what he said was unintentional contact. The NBA agreed as they only fined Bud $25,000 for the gesture. The relative light punishment left the referees dissatisfied.
“Referees operate in an environment in which an influential NBA team owner has repeatedly mocked the efficacy of fines as means to change bad behavior,” NBRA General Counsel Lee Seham said in a statement. “Recent League precedent dictated that a coach who aggressively charged onto the floor during live action and physically interfered with a Referee would be suspended. We are now operating at a lower level with less transparency, degraded safety, and diminished respect for the Game. Coaches should compete by creating better teams, not by physically intimidating officials.”
The contact was minor — there is no debate about that — but if you don’t referees to be bullied by coaches, then heavier penalties are called for. Apparently the league did not feel what Budenholzer did called for much more.