Budenholzer reflects on his past in Arizona, but quickly focuses on his future as head coach of the New Phoenix Suns

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Mike Budenholzer shakes hands with James Jones

Mike Budenholzer got a little emotional talking about his past in Arizona, describing an ideal childhood in the small town of Holbrook, about three hours northeast of Phoenix. Those emotions quickly shifted when discussing his future.

“It’s mind-boggling to me, like mind-blowing, to think that I’m going to be the head coach of the Phoenix Suns,” Budenholzer said on Friday during an introductory press conference in downtown Phoenix.

The 54-year-old Budenholzer replaces Frank Vogel, who was fired on May 9 after a disappointing season. The two-time NBA coach of the year is tasked with getting more out of the team’s All-Star trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal as the franchise continues its quest for a championship.

The group never fully gelled last season under Vogel, finishing with a 49-33 record before being swept by Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs.

“I’m excited about working with this roster and these players,” Budenholzer said. “We have great players. And with great players come great expectations. I think we embrace that.”

Mike Budenholzer holds the jersey

Budenholzer spoke on Friday in front of a few dozen family and friends, including his 94-year-old dad Vince, whom Mike called “the original coach Bud.”

The younger Budenholzer won the 2021 NBA title while leading the Milwaukee Bucks — a championship that came at the expense of the Suns. Phoenix has never won a championship, reaching the Finals three times in 56 seasons.

Budenholzer was let go by the Bucks in 2023 after five seasons and didn’t coach in the NBA last season. He also led the Atlanta Hawks from 2013 to 2018 and has a 484-317 record over 10 seasons.

Before coaching in Atlanta, Budenholzer spent 17 years as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs under coach Gregg Popovich.

“This year, for me, was really healthy,” Budenholzer said. “I kind of had a list of priorities, focusing on my kids and my family, super important. We’ve been through a lot. So really, the time with my kids was just amazing. My son’s a senior in high school — going to every one of his games — driving home you’re like ’Wow, I got a gift.”

As much as he enjoyed the chance to recharge, he’s eager to return to coaching. “I’d like to keep coaching as much and as long as I can,” he added.

Now the challenging task begins to reshape the Suns roster. Phoenix doesn’t have much flexibility under the league’s salary cap due to the large contracts for Booker, Durant, and Beal. The team’s other two expected starters — Grayson Allen and Jusuf Nurkic — are also signed for next season.


By James Brown

A passionate and driven individual currently pursuing a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). Born on 06 February, hails from Raipur, where their journey into the world of technology and creativity began.

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