I must admit, I was quite skeptical when it was reported that the Knicks would interview former NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer. Why would the Hawks part with one of the league’s finest coaches, and why would Budenholzer, who has spent most of his career coaching perennial playoff contenders, choose the Knicks?
Well a recent article from Marc Berman might have cleared up both concerns rather nicely. According to his source, Bud’s yearning for New York is quite real.
Mike Budenholzer is genuinely interested in the Knicks’ job, according to an NBA source who has spoken to the Hawks coach.
“New York’s his top choice,’’ the NBA source said. “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes. He wants to live in New York.’’
The piece was hilariously titled “Mike Budenholzer Wants the Knicks’ Job Because He’s Sick of Losing” before some New York Post editor smartened up and changed it. Why would a coach who’s tired of losing choose the Knicks?
But there is a bit of logic to this line of reasoning. Berman’s article goes on to state that Budenholzer is wary of guiding the Hawks through a long stretch of intentional tanking, which seems to be the course the front office has set. The Knicks are a bit further along in their Process, assuming Kristaps Porzingis returns to full health. Kristaps, Frank Ntilikina, this year’s lottery pick (hopefully good!) and next year’s lottery pick (also hopefully good!) could set them up nicely in 2019, assuming they finally have a good coach, that is. And coaches don’t come much better than Budenholzer.
But what about the second half of the equation? Why would the Hawks part with Budenholzer, who’s still under contract for two more seasons? Fortunately, Berman’s sources believe that the Knicks might be able to pry him from Atlanta without including a draft pick.
One NBA executive said Hawks ownership ultimately may be motivated by finances regarding Budenholzer. It seems hard to justify Atlanta seeking major compensation like a first- or second-round pick, with cash considerations more likely.
“Ownership has quite a bit of money on the line,’’ an NBA executive said. “They may be thinking why pay him $6 million a year if they’re not a playoff contender? Why not pay someone $2 million a year for the next two years?’’
I remain skeptical that this thing will get done—there are still a host of other potential suitors that make more sense than New York. But if the Knicks can get this done for just cash, they should hire Mike Budenholzer today.