Mike Budenholzer met with Dennis Schroder to clear the air and move forward two days after the Hawks coach benched his starting point guard for most of the second half in a loss to the Warriors.
The two met Wednesday morning before the slumping Hawks faced the Nets.
“He was very good,” said Budenholzer, who declined to give specifics of the meeting. “He and I communicating and understanding what is important. Really, he came in understanding what is important. Things happen in our league. Things happen in games. It’s part of our growth as a team, my growth as a coach, his growth as a player. I think we are ready to focus on Brooklyn and move forward. But Dennis was very good this morning.”
Schroder was taken out of the Warriors game 3:19 into the second half. As he and Dwight Howard argued about a turnover, the Warriors quickly inbounded the ball and Stephen Curry hit a 3-pointer. It was part of a decisive Warriors’ run. The play got Schroder a spot on the bench and it was extended after he exchanged words with Budenholzer upon exiting. Schroder had scored 23 points, including 19 in the first quarter.
After the game, Schroder said he wanted to meet with Budenholzer and Howard about the incident and benching.
Schroder was not made available to the media Wednesday morning following the team’s shootaround nor pre-game access.
The incident comes after Schroder was suspended for one game last month for failure to return from the All-Star break on time. He did not start the very next game after being late for the team bus. Budenholzer sat Schroder for several games last season for talking back. Budenholzer said he is not concerned with the actions of the young point guard.
“We are constantly wanting, not just Dennis, but the whole team to put the team and us being together and prioritizing teammates in the best way possible,” Budenholzer said. “He is taking on a lot as a starting point guard at a relatively young age. I think he’s done a lot of things well. We’ve had a few road bumps. To some degree, that’s expected. He and I talked about focusing on a lot of things that are positive and where we can improve. He wants to be great. That’s what makes Dennis special. That includes being a great teammate. This is all part of that process.”
Schroder has been a well-documented irritant to opposing players during his four seasons in the NBA. He has gotten under the skin of his teammates at times. According to a person familiar with the situation, Paul Millsap had sharp words for Schroder following the game. However, Millsap said Wednesday he understands there is an adjustment for Schroder.
“We talk all the time,” Millsap said. “That’s between me and Dennis. I don’t want to get too far into it but Dennis is like a little brother to me. I talk to Dennis like I talk to one of my little brothers. I treat him as such. We are that close. We have conversations all the time. He wants to get better. He wants to be better. I respect him for that. When you are young, you miss a lot of stuff. When you are young, you do dumb stuff. I was young. I’ve done dumb stuff. It’s good to have veteran guys and a coach who care.”
Millsap said the benching of Schroder will not be a distraction. The team is ready to move on.
Millsap, in his 11th NBA season and as one of the longest-tenured Hawks, said he understands is role as a team leader in such circumstances. Budenholzer said veterans, such as Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore and Millsap, can help police the locker room and the role is most often not seen publically.
“I can assure you that there is a lot of help and I would use the word leadership in the locker room,” Budenholzer said. “Lots of times it’s understated or not noticed as much, particularly with Paul and what Paul does in our locker room and behind the scenes. Even with great leadership, sometimes you have bumps in the road. It’s not for lack of anything in our locker room.”