Mike Budenholzer, the current head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, will meet with the Suns in the next week about their head coaching position. The thought that anyone connected to Gregg Popovich would work for Robert Sarver seems far-fetched, but the fact he’s even getting on a plane to come to Phoenix is a good move by the beleaguered front office of our hometown hero’s.
Budenholzer is a Arizona homegrown product, from Holbrook. Each time the Suns have had a head coach opening (lots of those over the last 8 years), the Budenholzer faithful have let me know that he should be considered. He has two years left on his contract with the Hawks.
He won 60 games and coach of the year honors in 2015-16. Why would he be interested in the Suns? Outside of returning to his roots, Budenholzer had been the Hawks’ president of basketball operations until he surrendered front office control in 2017. Atlanta is coming off a poor season, winning just 24 games after making the postseason four of the last five years. The Suns may have the top pick in the upcoming NBA draft and a couple of very nice pieces to build a team around.
I mentioned the Popovich factor earlier. Budenholzer was on the bench with the Spurs leader for 17 seasons, winning 4 titles. Many times the Spurs and Suns would lock horns, with the Spurs always coming out on top. Sarver once grabbed the mic during a Preseason game in 2014 and apologized to the fans for the Spurs not bringing their best players to the game. Popovich later said he was surprised that Sarver wasn’t wearing a chicken suit when he made the comments. There’s been plenty of tension beneath the surface in the past between the two franchises. Perhaps since the Suns haven’t been relevant in eight seasons, that has all faded away.
Budenholzer has the reputation of being a terrific tactician and demanding of his players. With the very, very young roster that has been assembled in Phoenix, is he the right voice for a young team? In the NBA, the players run the asylum.