In a bit of a unexpected news, the Atlanta Hawks have given permission to the Phoenix Suns to interview head coach Mike Budenholzer for the same position in Phoenix.
That’s via Woj:
Budenholzer is planning to meet with Suns officials early next week, league sources said. A native of Arizona, Budenholzer has two years, $14 million-plus left on his contract.
So far, the Suns’ coaching search appears focused on securing a candidate with a successful head-coaching resume in the NBA. The Suns still are considering interim coach Jay Triano, who replaced Earl Watson three games into the regular season.
Budenholzer just won coach of the year in 2015, but things haven’t gone as smoothly for him in the aftermath; he had his GM duties removed prior to this season.
Considered one of the NBA’s best tacticians. Budenholzer had been the Hawks president of basketball operations — until surrendering front office control with the arrival of new GM Travis Schlenk in the spring of 2017.
What’s interesting is that while it might make sense for a coach with a taste for winning to not want to stick around for a rebuild (the Hawks were awful this year, and will pick fourth in the draft), the Suns aren’t exactly on the precipice of contending, either. But their roster is a bit better, and they’ll have the #1 overall pick this year to perhaps build on it even more.
And hey, Budenholzer is from Arizona, too, so there’s that. And maybe things haven’t gone so smoothly with Schlenk; any difference in vision or opinion isn’t easy, especially when Budenholzer has experience in that role as well. And this also signals to any other teams, including teams who could ponder a coaching change despite making the playoffs, that he could be available.
It’s an odd story, but it is the kind you’d expect to have break on the Friday evening before the start of the playoffs.