Budenholzer, 43, has been an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs for the past 17 years and been with the organization under coach Gregg Popovich for 19 years overall. Even though he put in the work, “who you know” helps out a lot.
Budenhozler joins Hawks GM Danny Ferry, who was an executive in San Antonio before becoming GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers and then the Hawks. Ferry did expand his coaching search to include Stan Van Gundy, former Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan and CSKA Moscow coach Ettore Messina while Budenholzer was unavailable while the Spurs were advancing through the playoffs, but San Antonio granted permission to Atlanta to negotiate with their top assistant during the break between their Western Conference finals victory and the start of the NBA Finals on June 6.
Given the relationship between Ferry and Budenholzer and their shared philosophies under Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, the talks moved rapidly to a conclusion on Tuesday.
My Two-Cents: GM Danny Ferry is financially rebuilding the Hawks organization like he did in Cleveland. Before the season, he shipped Joe Johnson and his max contract to the Brooklyn Nets for crappy expiring contracts and a future first-rounder.
Ferry also cut the cord on former second-overall pick Marvin Williams, who never lived up to expectations. Swapping him for Devin Harris, who is in the final year of his deal, was a smart move since Williams still had one year left on his contract. The team signed Louis Williams to an affordable deal; acquired Kyle Korver (another free agent in 2013) for next to nothing and drafted sharpshooter John Jenkins. The team finished 44-38 (14th overall) and ended the season in a six-game series loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Cap space will be plentiful as Al Horford, Williams and Jenkins are the only players guaranteed to be under contract, which totals about $18.2 million. That means Atlanta will have a ton of flexibility to make a run at some of the marquee free agents like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, who are from the Atlanta area. The Hawks can also load up on draft picks so they can follow the Oklahoma City blueprint that a ton of teams are utilizing and build through the draft while being smart about not overpaying mediocre talent with pricey, long-term deals.
In order to finish this successful rebuilding, you must have the right coach that has a winning pedigree and has the same mindset as the GM, that is where Mike Budenholzer comes in. If the Ferry-Budenholzer combo can be anywhere comparable to the Buford-Popovich regime, things are looking up for the Atlanta Hawks and will stay that way for the long run.