The Milwaukee Bucks have their new head coach.
“Mike has played a key role in building successful teams throughout his career,” general manager Jon Horst said in release. “He’s widely respected and has shown a special ability to teach and develop players. His leadership, basketball intellect, championship-level experience and communication skills make him the right fit to take our team to the next level.”
A longtime assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Budenholzer spent the last five seasons as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. There, he made four playoff appearances and was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2015. The 48-year-old went 213-197 with the Hawks, but just 17-22 in the postseason, including one trip to the conference finals.
The Bucks reportedly interviewed at least six candidates for the job before settling on Budenholzer. He met with the team on Tuesday and then, according to Zach Lowe, had breakfast with stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on Wednesday.
Budenholzer takes over a team that many think is on the rise and one that will be playing in a brand new building next season. It’s a franchise that has made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons, including pushing Boston to seven games in the opening round this year. With Antetokounmpo, he’s got one of the top 10 players in the NBA, while Middleton is among the more underrated wing players in the game.
“There are terrific people throughout the organization and together we have a tremendous opportunity to take the Bucks to the next level,” Budenholzer said in the release. “I look forward to working with our group of young and exciting players and helping us evolve in many ways to succeed on the court. The venues are also in place with an incredible, new state-of-the art arena and first-class Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center. The tremendously supportive fans in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin are waiting and ready. Now it’s up to us to put all the pieces together, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Budenholzer replaces Jason Kidd, who was fired midseason. His assistant, Joe Prunty, served as Milwaukee’s interim coach and was not retained.