Although the end of the relationship between Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks was classified as a mutual parting of ways, it doesn’t appear the two sides agreed to any sort of buyout of the two years and $13MM+ remaining on Budenholzer’s contract.
Budenholzer will receive the full amount of the money left on his contract with the Hawks, reports Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That was a “lump Hawks owner Tony Ressler did not want to swallow,” according to Schultz, who suggests that the team was willing to agree to the arrangement in order to move on and begin searching for a new long-term head coach.
Continuing to pay their old head coach isn’t an ideal situation for the Hawks, but Schultz notes that Atlanta’s financial obligation to Budenholzer will be lessened if he lands a new head coaching job elsewhere. While the specifics aren’t clear, it sounds like the agreement between the Hawks and Budenholzer includes some form of set-off rights that will prevent the veteran coach from collecting his full salary from Atlanta while also earning a full salary from a new team.
In order for the Hawks to reduce their commitment to Budenholzer though, he’ll need to be hired by a new team. After interviewing with the Suns, Budenholzer withdrew from consideration for that job, so he appears to only be in the mix for the Knicks’ position for now. There have been rumblings in recent weeks that Budenholzer could be eyeing the Bucks’ job, but as long as Milwaukee remains in the playoffs, interim coach Joe Prunty continues to hold that role.
As Schultz observes, Ressler and GM Travis Schlenk initially wanted to leverage other teams’ interest in Budenholzer into compensation for letting him out of his contract. Not receiving any compensation and remaining on the hook for Budenholzer’s $13MM salary is almost a worst-case scenario for the franchise. However, with Budenholzer’s return having become increasingly untenable and Atlanta wanting to start interviewing candidates to replace him, the club felt it was time to make a move, even if the financial pill was a tough one to swallow.