Former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer and the Milwaukee Bucks, have agreed on a four-year deal to make him the team’s next head coach, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He was No. 1 on Milwaukee’s list of prospective head coaches, with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina coming in at No. 2. Bucks management also sat down with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton hours before informing Budenholzer the job was his for the taking, according to Wojnarowski.
Budenholzer served as the Hawks’ head coach for five years and was an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs for 17 years before that. He won 4 titles with the Spurs and was named coach of the year in 2015 after Atlanta’s storybook 60-win season.
Budenholzer will take the reigns of a Milwaukee team that faced an early exit in the 2018 playoffs at the hands of the Boston Celtics. He will inherit a roster that needs work but still boasts one of the most talented young players in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo, as well as several promising young players and versatile wings.
The Bucks fired Jason Kidd midway through the season for a multitude of reasons, including a struggling defense despite a versatile, lanky rotation. Assistant coach Joe Prunty replaced Kidd in the interim and coached the Bucks to a 21-16 record in the second half of the season.
But Milwaukee performed just well enough to secure the seventh seed in the East and a dance with the injury riddled Celtics in the first round. Some believed the Bucks, with the best player on the floor in Giannis Antetokounmpo, could have pulled off the upset and maybe should have been considered favorites. The series went seven games, but Boston moved on.
With Budenholzer at the helm, things should change for the better in Milwaukee. Bud spent years under Popovich, but his offensive principles have also been influenced by Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense. In a 2015 interview with Bball Breakdown, Budenholzer said he’d tweak his offensive scheme a bit as he learned his players and their respective skill sets. He’s never had a player like the Greek Freak, though. This pairing should be fun.