Rumors have linked a number of big names, including Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, and even Kenny “The Jet” Smith (that’s right), to the search. One darkhorse candidate, however, is current Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer.
Budenholzer is under contract for two more seasons, so if he goes somewhere else, his new franchise will likely need to give something to Atlanta in return. The Phoenix Suns were also interested in Budenholzer, but he reportedly withdrew from consideration for that opening.
A new report from Marc Berman of the New York Post indicates Budenholzer has made New York his top choice.
“New York’s his top choice,” Berman quotes an NBA source as saying. “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes. He wants to live in New York.”
Budenholzer, 48, was the 2015 NBA Coach of the Year. The Hawks recently blew up their core of Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford. They are in rebuilding mode now.
This was a tough year for Atlanta. The team finished with the worst record in the East, 24-58, and tied for the third-worst mark in the league. It seems both the coach and franchise are open to moving on.
“The Hawks may look at finances, seeking a way out of the final two years and $13 million of Budenholzer’s contract,” Berman writes. “On Sunday, Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry interviewed Budenholzer after receiving permission from the Hawks. The downside of Budenholzer’s candidacy is the Mills/Perry tandem have no prior dealings with the coach who has guided Atlanta the last five seasons.”
In addition to wanting to live in New York, Budenholzer may covet the opportunity to coach the incredibly talented Porzingis.
Mike Budenholzer watching Kristaps Porzingis tape and imaging him in the Al Horford role pic.twitter.com/Xeh4fRcpla
— Official Mark Jackson Slander Account (@thealexwolfe) April 20, 2018
Don’t be surprised if Budenholzer, a respected figure around the league, ends up coaching the Knicks next season. Acquiring him would be a major win for the disheveled franchise.
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