Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer reportedly needs a "deep playoff run" this season in order to save his job.
According to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, it is believed that anything short of a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals will almost certainly result in Budenholzer's firing.
Budenholzer, who is in the midst of his third season with the Bucks, owns a 154-63 record in Milwaukee, but the Bucks have been unable to break through with a trip to the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee finished with the best record in the NBA in each of the past two seasons, and it had the NBA MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo in each of those campaigns as well.
Even so, the Bucks fell to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019 and to the eventual Eastern Conference finalist Miami Heat in the second round last season.
Budenholzer was seemingly on the hot seat earlier this season after the Bucks got off to an uneven start, but they are now third in the Eastern Conference at 41-24 and are just 1.5 games behind the Brooklyn Nets for second place in the conference.
The Bucks are in the midst of a three-game winning streak and have won six of their past eight. With Milwaukee playing some of its best basketball, Charania and Amick noted that there is "internal confidence" within the team that the Bucks are the best team in the East.
Charania and Amick also reported that the "team dynamics are very healthy," but that doesn't guarantee Budenholzer will be back for the final year of his contract in 2021-22.
Budenholzer is reportedly battling against the perception that he played a big role in the Bucks' shortcomings last season, with Charania and Amick reporting that there was a "great deal of frustration" toward Budenholzer last season because of the belief that he didn't adjust accordingly to beat Miami in the playoffs.
Budenholzer has a hugely talented team at his disposal, with Giannis leading a group that also includes Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, among others.
A trip to the Eastern Conference Finals or better is far from certain since the Bucks may have to face either the Nets or Philadelphia 76ers in the second round, but that is the expectation for Budenholzer given the team that has been put around him.