Hawks Rumors

Mike Budenholzer To Part Ways With Hawks

Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks have mutually agreed to part ways, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (story). As Luke Adams opined last week, it was thought that it may be difficult for Budenholzer to return to Atlanta after interviewing for jobs with the Knicks and Suns, and it appears that both the Hawks and Budenholzer have come to the same conclusion.

Hawks GM Travis Schlenk confirmed to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the two parties have moved on, saying he “feels like it’s in the best interest of both parties.” The Hawks have also officially announced the move.

It is still unknown whether Budenholzer will retain any of the $13-14MM remaining on his contract with Atlanta, but it may not matter, as Stefan Bondy of the Daily News tweets that it’s possible Budenholzer may already have his next job lined up, perhaps with the Knicks.

If so, it would be a win-win for both Budenholzer and the Knicks, as Budenholzer has already been reported as saying New York is his top destination, while the Knicks would be gaining a well-respected leader in NBA circles.

Speaking to ESPN, Budenholzer said “I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here. From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”

Budenholzer was awarded the NBA’s Coach of the Year award in 2015 after a 60-win season and a trip to the Eastern Conference finals. He also won four NBA titles as a member of Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio.

Community Shootaround: Can Budenholzer Return To Hawks?

Mike Budenholzer has interviewed for two of the NBA’s open head coaching positions so far this offseason, meeting with the Suns and Knicks about their vacancies. Budenholzer withdrew from consideration for the Phoenix job, but is reportedly interested in landing in New York.

The only problem? Budenholzer already has a coaching job, with two years and about $13-14MM remaining on his contract with the Hawks. While Atlanta has been willing to let Budenholzer interview for other jobs, the team has maintained that it’s open to bringing back its head coach for the 2018/19 season.

Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is skeptical, writing today that he finds it hard to believe that Budenholzer could remain the Hawks’ head coach going forward. As Cunningham outlines, Budenholzer wasn’t thrilled to lose personnel decision-making power to GM Travis Schlenk a year ago, and isn’t all that interested in working through a long rebuilding process in Atlanta.

A person familiar with Budenholzer’s plans tells Cunningham that the head coach would be ready to return to Atlanta if he doesn’t get another job, and the Hawks have maintained that they could be on board with that scenario too. But Cunningham views that scenario as untenable, since it’d be hard for Hawks players to commit to a lame-duck coach who may have his eye on other jobs.

The best-case scenario for both Budenholzer and the Hawks would for him to find another situation he likes, and for that team to offer Atlanta a fair compensation package to let him out of his current contract. That way, Budenholzer could move on to a more favorable situation and Atlanta’s new management group could hand-pick a new head coach after having gotten out from under Budenholzer’s contract.

If Budenholzer doesn’t get an offer though, or if a team that wants him isn’t willing to give the Hawks compensation to let him go, the situation could get messy. It wouldn’t be unprecedented if Budenholzer ultimately remains in Atlanta – Dave Joerger signed an extension with the Grizzlies in 2014 after they let him interview with the Timberwolves – but it wouldn’t be ideal either.

What do you think? Can the Hawks bring Budenholzer back? Will they have the opportunity to make that decision, or will he be offered a job by another team? Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Mike Budenholzer Wants To Coach Knicks

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer has a genuine interest in the Knicks’ coaching vacancy, Marc Berman of The New York Post reports.

“New York’s his top choice,’’ the NBA source tells Berman. “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes. He wants to live in New York.’’

Atlanta appears to be heading toward a Process-like rebuild, something Budenholzer isn’t pleased with.

“Phoenix and the Knicks are trying to win every game,’’ said the NBA source who has spoken to Budenholzer recently. “There’s a good chance Atlanta is not looking to win games the next two years. This wasn’t Mike’s decision. He didn’t expect it. He doesn’t want to lose games.’’

Budenholzer has two years and $13MM remaining on his deal, though the Hawks seem open to letting him coach elsewhere next season, as they’ve already allowed him to interview with the Suns and Knicks. Budenholzer withdrew his name from the Phoenix job last week.

Atlanta could be looking for compensation in return for its coach. However, Berman hears that finances may be the franchise’s top priority, meaning they could ultimately end up receiving cash considerations rather than draft picks from a team looking to bring Budenholzer aboard.

“Ownership has quite a bit of money on the line,’’ an NBA executive said. “They may be thinking why pay him $6 million a year if they’re not a playoff contender? Why not pay someone $2 million a year for the next two years?’

Budenholzer previously coached the Knicks’ highest-paid player, Tim Hardaway Jr., while the shooting guard was in Atlanta and he helped the Michigan product develop into a serviceable option. That, along with his excellent reputation, could give him a leg up for the job in New York.

“He’s an excellent coach and teacher,’’ another NBA personnel director tells Berman. “He’s really a student of the game and did a very good job developing young players. He’s a good combo of disciplinarian and players coach. Doc Rivers isn’t a bad comparison.”

Knicks Plan To Talk To Mike Budenholzer

The Knicks continue to cast a wide net in their search for a new head coach, with Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting (via Twitter) that the club intends to talk to current Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer.

Budenholzer, who has two years and more than $13MM remaining on his contract with the Hawks, has already met with the Suns about their head coaching vacancy. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday night that Budenholzer withdrew from consideration for that Phoenix job, but it appears he’s not yet a lock to return to the Hawks.

If the Knicks want to hire Budenholzer, they’d almost certainly have to send the Hawks some sort of compensation to let him out of his current deal. The most notable example in recent years was the Celtics acquiring a first-round pick from the Clippers when Boston let Doc Rivers out of a contract with three years left on it in 2013.

As our head coaching search tracker shows, the Knicks have put together an extensive list of potential candidates to become Jeff Hornacek‘s replacement. Jerry Stackhouse, Mark Jackson, and Mike Woodson have reportedly interviewed with the team, and Kenny Smith was set to do so today. New York is also expected to meet with David Fizdale and David Blatt.

Budenholzer Withdraws From Consideration For Suns Coach Job

Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer has withdrawn from consideration for the Suns‘ head coach vacancy, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Budenholzer met with the Suns on Monday and Tuesday and was expected to reach a decision this week.

A native of Holbrook, Arizona, Budenholzer still has two years and $13MM+ left on his deal with the Hawks.

With Budenholzer off the board, the Suns are considering interim coach Jay Triano, David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel to fill the position, Wojnarowski adds.

Budenholzer, 48, has been the Hawks’ head coach since 2013, leading the team to a 213-197 record. He won Coach of the Year for the 2014/15 season, a year in which the Hawks went 60-22 and went to the Eastern Conference finals.

The Hawks played to an Eastern Conference-worst 24-58 this season as the organization cut payroll and gathered young assets under general manager Travis Schlenk‘s vision.

Latest On Suns’ Head Coaching Search

We passed along several updates on the Suns‘ search for a new head coach on Tuesday night, relaying reports on the club’s plan to interview former Magic coach Frank Vogel, along with details on an upcoming meeting with former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale. We also noted that Phoenix’s interview with Mike Budenholzer took place on Monday and Tuesday this week, as the current Hawks coach sat down with Suns GM Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver over those two days.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes, the Hawks and Budenholzer are open to ending their partnership, so if the Suns decide he’s their man, there could be a path to making it happen. Still, there are roadblocks that would need to be cleared, as Atlanta would likely require compensation in order to let Budenholzer out of his contract with the team, which still has two years and $13MM left on it.

Here’s more on the Suns’ head coaching search:

  • While the Suns have mostly focused on getting to know Budenholzer so far this week, they’re considering several other candidates, including Steve Clifford and David Blatt, according to Wojnarowski, who says the team has been in contact with both of those former NBA coaches.
  • Confirming the Suns’ contact with Clifford, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes that the ex-Hornets coach is expected to interview with Phoenix. A source tells Bordow that the club hasn’t yet ruled out any candidates, and expects to have “many conversations” with prospective hires.
  • Spurs assistant James Borrego has drawn interest from the Suns as a potential target, per Bordow. It’s not clear whether the team has received permission from San Antonio to meet with Borrego, or if Phoenix’s discussions about the veteran assistant remain internal for now.

Mike Budenholzer Interviews With Suns

APRIL 17th, 7:45pm: Wojnarowski is now reporting that Budenholzer met with Suns management and ownership today and yesterday, and a sense is expected to emerge soon whether there is a pathway to Budenholzer becoming the Suns’ next head coach.

APRIL 14th, 9:06am: The Hawks granted Mike Budenholzer permission to interview with the Suns for their head coaching vacancy, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Budenholzer, the Hawks’ current head coach, still has two years and $13MM+ left on his contract.

A native of Holbrook, Arizona, Budenholzer plans to meet with Suns officials early next week.

Budenholzer, 48, has been Atlanta’s head coach since 2013, leading the team to a 213-197 record in that span. He won Coach of the Year for the 2014/15 season, a year in which the Hawks went 60-22 and went to the Eastern Conference finals.

This season, the Hawks entered a rebuilding stage by cutting payroll and gathering young assets under general manager Travis Schlenk. The team went just 24-58, coming in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Budenholzer is among several candidates the Suns plan to interview, Wojnarowski notes. Interim head coach Jay Triano, who took over after the dismissal of Earl Watson, will also be considered. The Suns finished in last place in the Western Conference, going 21-61, the worst record in the league.

Draft Pick Expected If Budenholzer Leaves

The Hawks can expect a first-round pick if coach Mike Budenholzer bolts for another team, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Budenholzer, who has two years left on his contract, was granted permission to interview for the Suns job. The Celtics received an unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 draft when the Clippers hired Doc Rivers in 2013, Cunningham notes. The Suns own extra first-round picks in the 2019 and 2021 drafts from previous trades, Cunningham adds.

Sixers Notes: Ilyasova, Belinelli, Brown, Hinkie

The Sixers, who raised NBA tanking to a new level during their “Trust the Process” years, got an assist this season from another tanking team, notes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. The additions of Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, who were both bought out by the Hawks, gave Philadelphia massive production off the bench in Saturday’s playoff opener.

Ilyasova posted 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Belinelli scored 25 points and was 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Although he drew interest from the Bucks, Cavaliers, Warriors and Raptors after his buyout, Ilyasova said it was an easy decision to come to Philadelphia.

“I think it’s all about fitting in the right situation,” he said. “Me and Marco, the way this team plays, we fit in perfectly in the system. … “When you look at the locker room and see the guys we have, obviously when [Joel Embiid] gets back, the sky’s the limit.”

There’s more today from Philadelphia:

  • When it comes to trusting the process, no one had to do it more than coach Brett Brown, who amassed a historically bad won-loss record in his first few years on the bench, Shelburne adds in the same story. The former Spurs assistant, who was 55-253 heading into this season, said he never lost faith in what the organization was trying to accomplish. “For whatever reason, I have found peace with what we have been doing since I’ve had the job,” Brown said. “We have tried to stay steady throughout it all. And I hope I still do. I really mean that. You had to have a vision and a calling. But we want more. Ultimately, we’re trying to grow something that can produce a championship.”
  • Co-managing partner Josh Harris also focused on winning a title in a chat with Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harris called it “painful” to rebuild for three and a half years, but added that the organization never wavered from its plan. “I’m greedy,” he said. “I want to win an NBA championship. “I’m not going to be satisfied until that happens.”
  • Former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, credited as the architect of the tanking strategy, remains on good terms with the organization, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. “Sam is a smart guy,” Harris said. “He’s a great strategist, and he certainly positioned the team, as best he could, to achieve success through the rebuild process. He also brought in some good people who are still with us. We continue to have a good relationship with him. We’re glad he was a part of it.”