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.