Shortly after the season ended, the Atlanta Hawks allowed their coach, Mike Budenholzer, to meet with the Phoenix Suns about their coaching vacancy. That meeting took place days ago, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, but it doesn't mean Budenholzer is a sure bet to be the Suns' next coach.
Budenholzer, who is an Arizona native, met with Suns brass this week, reports Wojnarowski:
Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer met with Phoenix Suns management and ownership on Monday and Tuesday, exploring the possibility of him becoming the Suns' next head coach, league sources told ESPN.
Budenholzer met with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver over the two days, league sources said, after Atlanta granted him permission to meet with Phoenix late last week.
The Hawks and Budenholzer are both open to ending their partnership, but there are several hurdles that would need to be cleared before that could happen, including the Suns making an offer and agreeing to a contract and possible compensation to Atlanta.
The Suns are considering several head-coaching candidates but have largely been focused on getting to know Budenholzer in recent days, league sources said. Phoenix has had contact with former head coaches Steve Clifford (Charlotte), Frank Vogel (Orlando and Indiana), David Fizdale (Memphis) and David Blatt (Cleveland), sources said.
The Suns are still considering interim coach Jay Triano, who replaced Earl Watson three games into the regular season.
Budenholzer still has two years and $13 million left on his contract with the Hawks.
While Budenholzer did not sign up for a rebuild when he left Gregg Popovich's staff to come to Atlanta in 2013, there was no indication he was ready to move on during last Wednesday's exit interview.
"I love what I do. I love this team. I'm focused on what we just did and how we can get better going forward," Budenholzer said.
Budenholzer won four NBA titles as a member of San Antonio Spurs' coaching staff and spent 19 years there, including 17 seasons as an assistant. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2014-15 after guiding the Hawks to a franchise-record 60 wins. Additionally, Atlanta has made the playoffs in four of his five seasons at the helm.