Mike Budenholzer

Budenholzer Named Coach Of Year

The Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer was named Coach of the Year at NBA’s annual awards show on Monday.

The former Hawks coach was hired last summer and guided Milwaukee to the league’s best record. The Bucks became an offensive juggernaut under his watch, scoring a league-best 118.1 points per game.

The Nuggets’ Michael Malone and Clippers’ Doc Rivers were the other finalists.

Budenholzer was also named Coach of the Year in 2015 with Atlanta. He was also Hoops Rumors’ consensus choice this year.

Harden, Giannis, George Named MVP Finalists

Defending champion James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George are the finalists for this season’s Most Valuable Player award, the league announced in a press release.

The voting is expected to be close between Harden, who averaged 36.1 PPG and 7.5 APG during the regular season, and Antetokounmpo, who carried the Bucks to the best record in the league while averaging 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 5.9 APG. George averaged 28.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 4.1 APG.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Most Valuable Player]

The league also released the finalists for its other awards. The winners will be revealed during a TNT broadcast on Monday, June 24. Here are the rest of the finalists:

Rookie of the Year:

Sixth Man of the Year:

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most Improved Player:

Coach of the Year:

  • Mike Budenholzer (Bucks)
  • Michael Malone (Nuggets)
  • Doc Rivers (Clippers)

Mike Budenholzer Named Coach Of The Year By NBCA

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has been elected the 2019 Coach of the Year by the National Basketball Coaches Association, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

The award is voted on by all 30 NBA head coaches and does not permit any coach to vote for himself. Per Wojnarowski, the NetsKenny Atkinson, NuggetsMichael Malone, PacersNate McMillan, SpursGregg Popovich, and others were among those to receive votes.

This award, introduced in 2017, isn’t the NBA’s official Coach of the Year award, which is voted on by media members and is represented by the Red Auerbach Trophy. That award will be presented at the league’s awards show in June. The Coaches Association’s version of Coach of the Year is voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches.

In his first season at the helm in Milwaukee, Budenholzer led the team to an NBA-best 60-win regular season.

Budenholzer, 49, spent five seasons as the Hawks’ head coach, leading the team to a 60-win season in 2014/15.  Atlanta’s strong regular season earned Budenholzer the Red Auerbach Trophy as the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2015.

After a 24-win season in Atlanta last season, Budenholzer and the Hawks parted ways, paving the road for him to join the Bucks.

Kings To Interview Walton; Messina Also On Their List

The Kings have formally requested an interview with Luke Walton, who parted ways with the Lakers on Friday, and also intend to request permission to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for their vacant head coaching job, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. (Hat tip to USA Today’s Sam Amick).

Walton is reportedly GM Vlade Divac’s leading candidate for the job. Messina was a finalist for the Raptors’ job last season, which wound up going to Nick Nurse. He also met twice with the Bucks’ brass last season before Milwaukee chose Mike Budenholzer.

The Kings fired Dave Joerger on Thursday, even though they improved enough to win 39 games. Sixers assistant Monty Williams is also expected to get a long look from Divac.

The fact that Divac is already lining up interviews suggests he’d like to make the coaching hire quickly.

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Bucks, Porter, Lopez

The Bucks’ decision to give point guard Eric Bledsoe a four-year, $70MM extension was a sensible move by both parties, Bobby Marks of ESPN argues. It’s a worthwhile price to retain Bledsoe and keep the core group together and that should aid their recruiting pitch to All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo as he approaches free agency in 2021. Bledsoe has become a more efficient player in Milwaukee, particularly in coach Mike Budenholzer’s system. With that order of business out of the way, the Bucks front office can now concentrate on re-signing Khris Middleton and restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon this summer, Marks adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks had a much more sensible plan to build around Antetokounmpo than the Lakers did with LeBron James, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times opines. Milwaukee has a completely different scheme under Budenholzer, surrounding its star with shooters through savvy decisions in free agency and trades. That has opened up driving lanes for Antetokounmpo. Los Angeles’ front office brought in playmakers and ballhandlers around James, Woike notes, which is why the Lakers rank 28th in 3-point shooting.
  • The Bulls have a much brighter outlook than they did at this time last season, when they went into full tank mode, Matt John of Basketball Insiders notes. The addition of Otto Porter has allowed the Bulls to improve its spacing offensively. Improved health for second-year power forward Lauri Markkanen has also made a difference, as he’s enjoying the best stretch of his young career, John continues. Shooting guard Zach LaVine remains a defensive liability but in a recent eight-game stretch, Chicago was a plus-8.2 with him on the floor, Johns points out. The Bulls will still get a high lottery pick and should continue to be on the upswing, John concludes.
  • It’s not out of the question that Robin Lopez re-signs with the Bulls, according to Sam Smith of the team’s website. The veteran center is showing his value as an offensive factor due to Wendell Carter Jr.‘s injury. The front office was concerned that Lopez couldn’t be effective switching and getting out to the perimeter defensively, but recently few teams have beaten the Bulls at his position, Smith notes. Lopez will want to test the market but with the team’s frontcourt needs expanding, his return for next season will be under consideration, Smith adds.

Bucks Notes: Lopez, Ilyasova, 2019 Cap Space

The transformation and development of the Bucks has been one of the hottest storylines of the season, as Mike Budenholzer has implemented a more modern offensive system and surrounded Giannis Antetokounmpo with enough floor spacers to make his rim attacks unstoppable. As a result, the Bucks own the league’s third-ranked offense which, when coupled with the sixth-ranked defense, makes for a potent combination.

One of the key additions this season has been Brook Lopez, who has transformed his offensive game to mainly be a spot-up shooter, a vast difference from the Lopez of a couple seasons ago. As Jonathan Tjarks writes for The Ringer, Lopez has been a huge part of the Bucks’ offense, as the team is significantly better with him on the floor. In fact, the Bucks “go from having what would be the highest offensive rating in NBA history with Lopez (115.6 in 832 minutes) to a bottom-five offense in the league without him (103.9 in 618 minutes).”

However, Tjarks also points out that due to Lopez’s limited athleticism, the Bucks have designed a defensive scheme that could easily be exposed come playoff time, as it has already been attacked throughout the regular season. It will be interesting to see what the trade-off is come the playoffs, as Lopez provides significant offensive value for the Bucks.

There’s more from the Bucks:

  • Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN had a feature on the Bucks’ ascension to the upper echelon in the league, detailing the additions of Budenholzer and Lopez and how they both relate to Antetokounmpo’s rise to becoming a potential MVP. Within his story, Arnovitz reports that the Bucks came “tantalizingly close” to acquiring both George Hill and Kyle Korver from Cleveland before the Cavs sent Korver to Utah instead.
  • Unfortunately for the Bucks, they will be without their other main offseason addition in Ersan Ilyasova, as the floor-spacing big man recently underwent surgery to repair a fractured nose, an injury he suffered during practice.
  • While the Bucks are certainly a feel-good story of the season, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports points out that the summer of 2019 could bring some changes to their core, with Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon all becoming free agents. As Feldman reveals, the Bucks will have around $67MM under the luxury tax to spend on bringing those four players back, but it certainly isn’t set in stone.

Central Notes: Lopez, Pistons, Cavaliers

As the Bucks have gotten off to a strong start, the improved floor-spacing around Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a key in taking the team to the next level. Of course, one of the key cogs in the Bucks’ rotation has been Brook Lopez, who is attempting nearly seven 3-pointers per game from the center position.

As Marc Stein writes for The New York Times, Lopez’s transformation into an elite shooter at center has made the Bucks offense even more dynamic and unstoppable. As Stein points out, once the Lakers decided not to bring Lopez back in the offseason, the Bucks pounced and added Lopez as a key offseason addition for new head coach Mike Budenholzer as he worked to modernize the team’s offense.

So far, the results speak for themselves. Antetokounmpo is averaging 18.9 points per game in the paint as a result of the increased floor-spacing around him, and the Bucks look to be a regular season power with their new offensive system.

There’s more from the Central division:

Central Notes: Budenholzer, Sexton, Sabonis

The Bucks credit new coach Mike Budenholzer for their hot start, as Nick Friedell of ESPN relays. The Bucks’ offense has more structure than it did under former coach Jason Kidd and interim coach Joe Prunty, multiple players told Friedell and other media members. “We have multiple sets we can get into, we have — just more of a foundation to play off of rather than just freestyle,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said. The players are displaying trust in the system, which emphasizes 3-point shots and ball movement, Friedell adds. “I think teams are starting to take notice and realize we’re not the Bucks that we were when I first got here six years ago,” small forward Khris Middleton said. “We’re a totally different team even from last year.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers coach Larry Drew is going to ride the team’s first-round pick and he’s told the rest of the team to buy in. Drew has instructed his veterans that they need to allow rookie point guard Collin Sexton to work through his mistakes, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer“I actually pulled some guys to the side when we were in Orlando (on Monday),” Drew said. “That was my exact point — having to be patient with a 19-year-old kid.”
  • Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis is off to a hot start and that presents a tricky dilemma for the front office, Zach Lowe of ESPN notes. Myles Turner signed a four-year, $72MM extension last month but Sabonis has thus far outplayed him. Statistics bear out that Indiana’s offense suffers when both are on the court, though Turner has a higher ceiling because of his 3-point shooting and rim protection, Lowe continues. Sabonis is eligible for an extension prior to the start of next season but it’s tough to pay big bucks for two players at the same position, Lowe adds.
  • The Pistons rank among the top 10 in the league in open 3-point attempts, yet they’ve done a poor job of making them. Meanwhile, the Bulls have been bit hard by the injury bug. Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders takes a closer look at some of the areas of concern for Central Division clubs.

Southeast Notes: McGruder, Butler, Kidd-Gilchrist, Ressler

Heat guard Rodney McGruder is boosting his chances for a contract extension with his productive start to the new season, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Through four games, McGruder is putting up numbers that dwarf his career averages, posting 16.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per night. After missing all but 18 games last season with a leg injury, McGruder is making the most of his newly won spot in the starting lineup.

The 27-year-old is eligible for an extension that could pay him up to $47MM over four seasons. McGruder and the Heat can negotiate an extension through June 30, so there’s no rush to get a deal done. Miami could also opt to make him a restricted free agent by making a $1.9MM qualifying offer.

The Heat’s salary structure could be the main thing standing in the way of a McGruder extension, Winderman notes. If Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic all opt in, the team will have eight players earning at least $10MM next season. A long-term deal for McGruder would also cut into Miami’s cap room for 2020, when the organization hopes to be competitive in the free agent market with those three contracts off the books.

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s greatest value to the Heat could be to entice another star to join the team in 2020, Winderman suggests in a separate piece. Even if the organization gives Butler the maximum contract he wants, it would have enough to offer a max deal in free agency.
  • Even though he’s no longer a starter, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is enjoying the changes implemented by new Hornets coach James Borrego, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Kidd-Gilchrist also had his minutes reduced and was moved from small forward to power forward, but he’s thriving in the new system. “A new coach, a new way of playing, a new lifestyle,” he said. “It is easy and simple. It’s me running in transition. All my teammates helped me from Day One about not starting, saying, ‘It’s OK.’”
  • Hawks owner Tony Ressler tells Jeff Schultz of The Athletic that he takes the blame for the team’s recent collapse and describes his former management team of Mike Budenholzer and Wes Wilcox as “total dysfunction.” They frequently disagreed on personnel moves, with Budenholzer, who also served as coach, being focused on a win-now approach. “Bud was not the right coach for us,” Ressler said. “He was desperate to coach a superstar. I don’t know where Bud’s head was; you’ll have to ask him. But I do think when some people have a very short life as the decision-maker, and they no longer have it, sometimes they miss it.”

Bucks Notes: Wood, Muhammad, Budenholzer, New Arena

Christian Wood appears to have the advantage in the battle for the Bucks’ final roster spot based on his performance in today’s intrasquad scrimmage, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The team entered training camp with 14 guaranteed contracts and four players competing for one position: Wood, Shabazz Muhammad, Tim Frazier and Tyler Zeller.

Wood, who signed with the Bucks last week, stood out today with several offensive rebounds, a few 3-pointers and a steady performance on defense. He has been trying to earn an NBA job since leaving Nevada-Las Vegas in 2015, but has played in just 30 combined games with the Sixers and Hornets.

Muhammad, who came to Milwaukee in March after being waived by the Timberwolves, was also impressive enough to get noticed by Khris Middleton.

“C-Wood and Bazz, they’re competing for a roster spot and you could tell by the way they played,” Middleton said. “They were everywhere.”

There’s more Bucks news to pass along, all courtesy of Velazquez:

  • New coach Mike Budenholzer’s philosophy was on display in the scrimmage as even the centers were taking a healthy number of 3-pointers. Brook Lopez made three from long distance in a 4 1/2-minute stretch and Wood impressed with his outside marksmanship as well. Even John Henson, who has taken just 13 shots from 3-point range in his career, was experimenting with them. “We’re encouraging a lot of spacing, guys having a lot of confidence,” Budenholzer said. “It felt like we shot a ton of them.”
  • The Bucks are hoping to use their bench more than in past seasons, and today’s action suggests there are a lot of players who can contribute. Ersan Ilyasova and Pat Connaughton, who both signed as free agents over the summer, provide two more outside shooting threats. Rookie Donte DiVincenzo looked promising and holdovers Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker seemed more comfortable in Budenholzer’s new system.
  • The scrimmage was the first event at the Bucks’ new Fiserv Forum, and the noise level was noticeable, even though the building was only partially filled. Players are hoping the new arena will provide a greater homecourt advantage than the old Bradley Center.