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Atlanta Hawks hire Spurs assistant Budenholzer as coach

May 28, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT

Hornets Spurs Basketball AP

UPDATE 4:15 pm: Well, that didn’t take long.

Spurs lead assistant Mike Budenholzer has been hired as the new head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, something first reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore and since confirmed by the team.

Budenholzer to work with the Spurs through the NBA finals then commit to Atlanta full time.

“We are thrilled to have Mike as the next coach of the Atlanta Hawks. He has an incredible basketball acumen and has a keen awareness of the league and what it takes to be successful,” Hawks GM Danny Ferry said. “His experience and four championships over the last 17 years provide a tremendous foundation for his leadership of our team.”

“I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of the San Antonio Spurs organization for the last 19 years. I knew it would have to be a tremendous situation for me to leave and clearly coming to Atlanta as the head coach of the Hawks is perfect for me,” Budenholzer said in a released statement. “Ownership’s commitment to taking this organization to the next level and creating a unique and special culture, partnering with a general manager like Danny Ferry who I have great respect for, and building a roster that has terrific potential because of the existing core and the ensuing flexibility presents a rare and uniquely positive opportunity.”

Budenholzer had interviewed for head coaching jobs in the past (although not as many as you’d think, in part because the Spurs were often deep in the playoffs). In part it was assumed that Budenholzer was the coach in waiting for when Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich retires.

But this seems a good fit and it’s a good hire for the Hawks. As mentioned in the original post below, Budenholzer will team up with former Spurs assistant GM Danny Ferry in trying to reshape the culture of the Hawks. They need to build a new culture there

“I couldn’t be happier for Mike for many reasons. As anyone who’s been part of this program knows, he has been more of a co-head coach than an assistant for a long time. His knowledge of the game as well as his ability to teach and develop relationships with players are all special,” said Popovich in a statement.

The Hawks are a team about to see some major roster changes (adios Josh Smith), but if you begin with Al Horford in the Tim Duncan role you’re off to a pretty good start. Still, it’s going to be a process in Atlanta.

4:05 pm: What else has he got to do? It’s not like the NBA schedule makers are keeping the Spurs busy.

Highly sought after Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer has been granted permission to talk to and negotiate with the Atlanta Hawks about their coaching opening during the nine-day break between the end of the Spurs sweep and the start of the Finals. So reports both David Aldridge at and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

This is pretty far along, with Wojnarowski calling it “serious stages of negotiating an agreement.”

Budenholzer is part of the Spurs family, having been with the team 18 years, the last five as the lead assistant to Gregg Popovich. They actually met when Div. III coach Popovich at Pomona-Pitzer recruited Budenholzer to play at the school, which he did but Popovich had soon left for bigger and better things.

But the Spurs family is branching out, including in Atlanta where former Spurs assistant GM Danny Ferry runs the show. If you’re trying to create the Spurs kind of operation and long-term success hiring two key cogs of that franchise makes sense.

Of course, the whole getting lucky to draft Tim Duncan (in one down year when David Robinson was injured) then finding Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili buried in the draft is not so simple.

But they built a culture and organization that could to that. If they can build anything close to that in Atlanta it would be a good thing.

  1. tomshoe - May 28, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Congrats Bud, you deserve it.

    Remind the Spurs to pound the Hawks extra-hard next season. Not because of Bud, but because the Hawks pulled a dick-move, stealing our lead assistant like that.

  2. mahhelo - May 28, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    18 years ago, to earn a letter of rec for pharmacy school, I volunteered at a local pharmacy for a Richard Budenholzer, RPh. He mentioned to me how proud he was that his brother worked for the Spurs as the last assistant – putting scouting videos together.

  3. fredagsedb - May 28, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    True that you don’t end up every day with the best PF of all time, with a skill level and attitude towards the game that few can rival

    Also true that players like Parker & Ginobili are hard to find. (Especially late 2nd round like Manu went)

    HOWEVER, I think it should be noted that the coaching of Pop & staff through the years has as much, if not more, to do with the success of those two players than their pre-draft scouting and drafting. Though the organization seem to have done a good job there, Pop himself has said that “They had no idea what they had gotten” in Ginobili when they drafted him. And by my estimation it does not seem that hard to find a PG at age 19 with the speed and skill Parker had at age 19. Developing him, seems to me to be the biggest achievement.

    That’s why I think the Hawks are going in the right direction. If they can stay the course, keep a solid core and develop around them with patience (which seems rare right now in the NBA) good things are gonna happen for them!

  4. wwttww - May 28, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Yes!… right when we get our act together enough in Atlanta for Stern to throw us a bone in the draft….he’s retiring.

  5. progress2011 - May 28, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Well, guess Atlanta fans will not be getting a true big ticket Free agent (Joe Johnson was not a cornerstone player).

    Scratch any chance of attracting the likes of D12, CP3 or any other proven player to help fill the seats in Phillips arena/ The Highlight Factory….ahahahahaha

    There are probably between 5 – 10,000 fans there on any given night. The league uses good camera angles, when their games are televised to give the illusion people are actually at the game…….ahahahaha

    With all the extra curricular activities in Atlanta, NOBODY is gonna pay to see a rookie head coach, learn his craft coaching a bunch of role players.

    Good luck with that !

    • mannyicey - Jun 1, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      Hi progress2011-

      I didn’t think that basketball fans pay money to see the coaches coach. They come to see the players play! And at first, I was thinking that hiring an assistant that wasn’t a big name was a bad move, but look at what hiring big-name coaches has done for you! Is there any big-named coaches left in contention not from the Spurs? Does the Heat have a big-name coach? Or the Pacers? Heck, who knew Popovich’s name before he went to the Spurs?

      Now you have this guy who’s been on the same team coaching for 17 years- winning championships as a coach with a proven system coming over to put that system in play in Atlanta- where celebrities live and play, economy is growing and with solid management (for a change!) You don’t expect someone to want to come a play for the opportunity to win?

      Here’s the deal- In order to win championships, you need a solid and strong management team. The Hawks finally got that. Next, you need a coach with a proven system and the ability to execute that system. The Hawks got that now. After this, you need at least two strong, dominant players. The Hawks has one and will look for another. Then, you would need to get solid players to play the roles needed to execute your offense and defense. The Hawks has the cap space to replace the entire team!

      This is the making of something good!

  6. wwttww - May 28, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    @Spoken2011 – Is that you Billy Knight?

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