1. Are you surprised Budenholzer has left the Spurs?
If you had asked me that five weeks ago ... actually, never mind -- feel free to check out how I felt five weeks ago after he interviewed with the Pistons, and I shared my so called insider's insight with Detroit Bad Boys, incorrectly leading them to believe that he "seemed content" in San Antonio. But as the number of interviews started piling up, it became clear that what we had all felt about Coach Bud simply wasn't the case. Or at least it was no longer the case.
So, technically, I was not surprised when I heard that the Hawks had hired him, but I would've been completely floored if he had agreed to terms in the middle of April with Detroit. And that isn't any kind of comment about the Pistons, but more of an explanation of how things have changed in the last month and change.
2. How many times have teams come after Bud in the past?
Before this year, I wouldn't say more than two or three times. I believe the Golden State Warriors came calling last year, and there were rumors a couple of years ago that a team or two was interested in him, but he merely replied that he didn't want to leave San Antonio, and it didn't go anywhere.
3. Was he next in line for the head seat if/when Pop quit?
This is the main crux of the issue, and the reason why I never took any of these opportunities seriously. While it was never said out loud, there was a general understanding that when Pop stepped down, Bud would take over as head coach of the Spurs. And really, why would you go anywhere else for an opportunity to try and drag a team out of whatever mire it was stuck in when all you would have to do to get one of the best jobs in the NBA, is just to wait a year or two.
After all, Pop was on the record as saying that 15 minutes after Tim Duncan retired, he would offer his resignation to Peter Holt. But over the last couple of years, Pop's stance has softened to the point where he has stated that he will continue to coach as long as he enjoys it and has a passion for it. And that is the reason that I think Bud started looking around. I imagine that Pop told Bud that he would likely be holding on to the keys for just a bit longer, and it might be a good idea for him to look find his own set of wheels.
4. What's been his main responsibility/(ies) on the Spurs' staff?
What, you mean besides coaching the team whenever Pop gets himself thrown out of games?
Seriously though, he is second in command under Pop. What precisely that means, I wish I could tell you. The Spurs are pretty tight-lipped, as you may have heard. But if I'm free to speculate..
As serious as the Spurs are about developing their players, that has to be a big part of that job. As meticulous as PATFO is about preparing for their opponents, he's certainly involved in scheming and game planning. As dedicated as Pop is to scouting young talent, and developing relationships with coaches in Europe during the summer, Bud is his right-hand man on nearly every trip as far as I know.
5. How is his demeanor around the press -- same as Pop?
Not at all. I have no idea if he will handle things differently when he is top dog in Atlanta, but in San Antonio he is not the least bit Pop-esque. In interview situations, he is thoughtful, considerate and detailed; you might even call him loquacious. There is a small amount of humor in his interactions with the media, but he is not the least bit sarcastic, sardonic or belligerent when dealing with the press. In fact, he is about as different from Pop in that environment you could imagine.
6. What's his rep amongst players?
Again, the Spurs are pretty tight-lipped, and I have never heard any of them say anything specific about Bud. But I have seen him in coaching situations with nearly everyone of the players on the roster, and without exception they have all treated him respectfully and deferentially; essentially, just like they would have treated Pop himself.