Before the regular season came to an end, a report emerged linking Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer with a potential job opening with the Milwaukee Bucks. Then, on the day of the team’s exit interviews, Budenholzer discussed his future in vague terms, leaving plenty of speculation about where the former NBA Coach of the Year may land in the future. On Friday evening, a bombshell emerged to that end, with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN bringing word that Budenholzer has been granted permission to interview with the Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix parted ways with Earl Watson early in the regular season and, since then, Jay Triano has acted as the interim coach. While he is reportedly a candidate, interest on Phoenix’s side in Budenholzer would be obvious in that he represents an upgrade with a track record of success.
However, Budenholzer having interest in Phoenix is noteworthy on many levels. First, he is an Arizona native and that could provide insight into his decision to interview. Beyond that, it would be difficult to argue that Phoenix is necessarily an upgrade from a basketball standpoint, though the emergence of Devin Booker would make the Suns more attractive than in the recent past.
Finally, the ESPN report puts forth Budenholzer’s remaining contract details, long seen as mysterious in that the team has not confirmed them in the past. ESPN indicates that he is owed $14 million over the next two years and, in order to leave for a different situation, it is safe to assume that Budenholzer would seek a deal that would be on similar or improved financial footing. Also, there is a scenario in which the Hawks could seek compensation from Phoenix if the two sides come together toward an agreement, though it would not necessarily be required to consummate a final deal.
It is, of course, important to note that Budenholzer has not yet been offered the job in Phoenix, at least with the information we currently know. Still, it is interesting (at the very least) that the organization granted permission for Budenholzer to sit down for an interview and doubly intriguing that the head coach elected to take it.
Stay tuned as more information becomes available.