Mike Budenholzer Rumored to Be 'The Focus' of Raptors, Bucks' Head Coach Search

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2018

Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer watches a three point try during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Atlanta. Philadelphia won 121-113. (AP Photo/John Amis)
John Amis/Associated Press

Mike Budenholzer will not be out of a job for long.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors have each made the former Atlanta Hawks coach the focal point of their respective searches, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Budenholzer, 48, mutually agreed to part ways with the Hawks last month. He led the team to a 213-197 record in his five seasons with the franchise, the first four featuring playoff appearances. The Hawks went 24-58 in 2017-18 in the first year of what's expected to be an extended rebuilding period.

The Bucks and Raptors represent arguably the two premier coaching jobs on the market. Milwaukee boasts a roster that took the Eastern Conference Finals-leading Boston Celtics to seven games in the first round of the playoffs and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is arguably already a top-five player at age 23.

The Bucks fired Jason Kidd in January and is not seriously considering his interim replacement, Joe Prunty. Should Budenholzer decide to take the Toronto job, odds are Milwaukee will focus its search on a coach with playoff experience.

The Raptors were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference after posting a 59-23 regular-season record before being swept in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Toronto fired Dwane Casey days after the four-game loss. Casey finished his tenure with 10 straight playoff losses to LeBron James and the Cavs.

While Budenholzer is probably a coaching upgrade from Casey, his playoff record is not so great. Budenholzer led the Hawks, who had four All-Star Game participants, to a 60-22 record in 2014-15—only to get swept out by James in the conference finals. Budenholzer has faced James eight games in the postseason and lost every single time. 

But the Raptors are capped out in terms of salary and locked into their roster, so coaching is probably the only place where they can make a slight upgrade to get over the hump. Whether Budenholzer is actually the guy remains to be seen. 


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