Mike Budenholzer, coach of Atlanta Hawks, meets with Phoenix Suns

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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.

Budenholzer, the 2015 NBA Coach of the Year and an Arizona native, has two years and more than $13 million left on his contract.

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.

Considered one of the NBA’s best tacticians, Budenholzer was the Hawks’ president of basketball operations until he surrendered front-office control with the arrival of new GM Travis Schlenk in the spring of 2017.

Budenholzer was the NBA’s 2015-16 Coach of the Year after a 60-victory regular season and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hawks reached the playoffs in four of his first five seasons. Atlanta dropped to 24-58 this season, with the organization’s mandate to shed salary, gather draft picks and future assets changing under Schlenk.

Budenholzer spent 17 years as an assistant under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich before his hiring in Atlanta in 2013. He won four NBA titles as a member of the Spurs‘ staff.



Source : ESPN