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Suns Closing In On Deal With Championship-Winning Head Coach

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer

After parting ways with former head coach Frank Vogel on Thursday evening, “Mike Budenholzer has emerged as the Phoenix Suns’ target to become the franchise’s next coach, and discussions are expected to move rapidly toward a deal,” per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski also notes that Vogel had four years and upwards of $20 million remaining on his contract.

Suns Closing in On Deal with Mike Budenholzer

The Suns were clearly unenthused by their 2023-24 campaign. Moving on from Vogel after just one season already spoke to that. However, their willingness to take the loss on $20 million-plus to get rid of him accentuates their decision.

Yet, as the Suns had signed Vogel to a five-year contract, they apparently had high expectations for him. Will Suns team owner Mat Ishbia and general manager James Jones have any more patience for Budenholzer?

No Patience in Phoenix

Jones might, as Phoenix didn’t rapidly cycle through head coaches until Ishbia took ownership. However, as Ishbia is the person cutting the checks, his opinion is what matters the most. To that point, when asked about Vogel’s future last week, Jones spoke about building trust through continuity. Ishbia may not have gotten the message. The Suns are now heading towards their third head coach in as many seasons.

With a roster headlined by Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, Phoenix has to resist knee-jerk reactions. It’s a tough task due to the pressure of maximizing their championship window. However, if the Suns underwhelm in their first season under Budenholzer, firing him immediately after the season is unlikely to land them a better head coaching candidate.

For one, Budenholzer is already the most proven coach on the market. The head coaches that have been more successful than him have no reason to leave their current teams for the Suns. That said, when the Suns decided to fire Vogel, they did so knowing that Budenholzer was available. Unless Steve Kerr or Erik Spoelstra becomes available next summer, Phoenix won’t have that type of safety net.

Coach Bud’s Credentials

A two-time Coach of the Year, Budenholzer has a 484-317 record in the regular season. His teams have went 56-48 in the postseason, with the Milwaukee Bucks winning a championship in 2021. A disciple of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, Budenholzer has routinely coached top-10 defenses. With the Bucks, he also commanded four top-five offenses.

Last season, the Suns ranked 10th in points per game (116.2) and ninth in offensive rating (117.6), which was more or less expected. However, they ranked 13th in opponent’s points per game (113.2) and defensive rating (114.6), with Vogel getting Durant and Bradley Beal to buy in defensively.


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