The Hawks have granted coach Mike Budenholzer permission to speak to the Suns about their vacant head coaching position, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough confirmed to azcentral.com on Friday.
Budenholzer, 48, has been Hawks coach for the past five seasons after spending 17 seasons as a Spurs assistant. The Hawks were 24-58 this season, last in the Eastern Conference, after they made the playoffs in each of Budenholzer’s previous four seasons.
The Hawks hired general manager Travis Schlenk in May 2017, soon after Budenholzer resigned as the team’s top basketball executive. Hawks owner Tony Ressler hired Schlenk, who began the process of shedding the roster of high-priced veterans and rebuilding it by acquiring draft picks, young players and salary-cap flexibility.
Before this season, Budenholzer’s teams made the playoffs in every year except one since he became a coach. At the end of this season, Bundeholzer said losing was hard for him but that he enjoyed the process of coaching a younger team and developing players.
The Suns are in a similar rebuild mode as the Hawks — they had the league’s worst record this season at 21-61. Budenholzer’s interest in the job likely is in part because Phoenix is near his hometown of Holbrook, Ariz.
The Hawks posted a franchise-record 60 victories during the 2014-15 season, when Budenholzer was named the NBA’s coach of the year. The Hawks concluded that season with their first Eastern Conference finals appearance since the franchise moved to Atlanta before the 1968-69 season.