Atlanta Hawks grant Mike Budenholzer permission to meet with Phoenix Suns about opening


The Atlanta Hawks have granted coach Mike Budenholzer permission to speak with the Phoenix Suns about their head-coaching vacancy, league sources told ESPN.

Budenholzer is planning to meet with Suns officials early next week, league sources said. A native of Arizona, Budenholzer has two years, $14 million-plus left on his contract.

So far, the Suns’ coaching search appears focused on securing a candidate with a successful head-coaching resume in the NBA. The Suns still are considering interim coach Jay Triano, who replaced Earl Watson three games into the regular season.

Considered one of the NBA’s best tacticians. Budenholzer had been 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 Coach of the Year in 2015-16, 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 starting to take shape under Schlenk.

Budenholzer spent 17 years as an assistant under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich before he was hired in Atlanta in 2013. He won four NBA titles as a member of Spurs’ staff.

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