Atlanta Hawks hire Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer as new head coach
The Hawks will officially announce Budenholzer in a Wednesday news conference, and general manager Danny Ferry - who was an executive in San Antonio before becoming GM of the Hawks - praised the new hire in a statement released by the team Tuesday.
"He has an incredible basketball acumen and has a keen awareness of the league and what it takes to be successful," Ferry said in the statement. "His experience and four championships over the last 17 years provide a tremendous foundation for his leadership of our team."
Budenholzer, 43, has spent 19 seasons with the Spurs, serving 17 seasons as an assistant and the last six as Gregg Popovich's top lieutenant. He will stay with San Antonio through the NBA Finals, which begin June 6, but is excited for the next phase of his career.
"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 statement released by the team. "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."
His soon-to-be former boss feels the same way.
"I couldn't be happier for Mike for many reasons," Popovich said. "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. I will miss him a great deal both professionally and personally and am confident that he and Danny will make a great team as the future unfolds."
Budenholzer replaces Larry Drew, who was not retained despite going 128-102 in three seasons and leading the Hawks to the playoffs three times. According to the AP, Budenholzer beat out several others, including Drew, Stan Van Gundy, former Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan and CSKA Moscow coach Ettore Messina.
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