Nearly a week has passed since a report surfaced linking Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer to the Milwaukee Bucks opening. On Wednesday, he was prompted about the existence of such rumors during the team’s exit interviews.
“Well, shockingly, I don’t see that stuff,” Budenholzer said when asked if he was committed long-term amid the public buzz. “I just spent however much time with the entire team, talking with each guy. I’m excited about each player. I’m excited about what we’re doing. But I’m really just kind of focused on this season and today and preparing the team for the summer. All the normal things that I do. I love it. I love what I do. I love this team and I’m focused on what we just did and how we can get better going forward.”
“No,” Budenholzer indicated when asked if there was any question in his mind about his future with the team. “I mean, I just finished the season and working with the guys. They’re a great group of guys and I love this.”
While that is certainly short of a full-fledged and full-throated denial of any outside interest, things became even more interesting after the public availability came to a close. Jeff Schultz of the AJC caught up with Budenholzer and more directly addressed the Bucks report.
Budenholzer reportedly indicated that any thought of him working back channels with Milwaukee was “not true” but he told the AJC that he was “not going there” (with regard to the topic in general) and said the following after being asked if a final decision was made.
“The season just ended. I literally just spent (several hours) with these guys (on exit interviews). I’ve been totally focused and totally devoted to this. I have genuinely enjoyed this, the city, everything. That’s where my mind is.”
Because the former NBA Coach of the Year did not fully deny any such activity, this is a story that could continue to develop in the near future, especially if and when the Bucks are eliminated from playoff contention. Beyond that, there could be other theoretical interest from similar teams with openings around the league and, because Budenholzer was not hired by the current front office administration and transitioned back to his original head coaching role under odd circumstances, the rumor mill could continue to churn.
Players up and down the roster were effusive in their praise of Budenholzer on Wednesday, particularly in the case of veterans like Kent Bazemore and young players like John Collins. Still, it will be interesting to see what transpires in the coming days, even beyond the obvious ramifications of the upcoming draft and free agency period.