Three years ago, Mike Budenholzer was named the league’s top coach after leading the Atlanta Hawks to the best record in the Eastern Conference. Now, he’s looking for a job. After five years together, Budenholzer and the Hawks have mutually agreed to part ways, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here,” Budenholzer said. “From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”
Budenholzer took charge of the Hawks before the 2013-2014 season and led the team to a playoff appearance in his inaugural season in Atlanta. Things truly began coming together, though, in his second season, when the Hawks went 60-22 in the regular season to earn the Eastern Conference’s top seed. Four of the team’s starters — Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap — were named to the All-Star team. But the team was swept out of the Eastern Conference Finals by the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. And though the Hawks made the playoffs the two years following that conference finals appearance, they never advanced past the second round.
Budenholzer collected a 213-197 (.520) record in the regular season but went just 17-22 (.436) in the postseason with the Hawks.
In 2017-2018, Atlanta went into full tank mode with all four of those aforementioned players elsewhere. The Hawks shed salary space and played a very young roster. Of the team’s top 10 scorers, only two — Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli — were older than 30, and both of those players were bought out near the trade deadline and picked up by Philadelphia.
Budenholzer will almost certainly have many suitors this summer. He recently withdrew from consideration for the Phoenix Suns job, and the New York Knicks — a team to which he has been linked — also have an opening.