Suns Hire Mike Budenholzer on Massive Five-Year Contract, per Report

The former Milwaukee Bucks head coach will replace Frank Vogel.
Mar 25, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer talks to referee
Mar 25, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer talks to referee / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It didn't take long for the Phoenix Suns to find their next head coach.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Friday that the Suns have agreed to terms with former Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, and the deal is massive. Budenholzer will reportedly earn more than $50 million over the life of the five-year contract.

Budenholzer is an Arizona native, so this move is a bit of a homecoming for him. A two-time NBA Coach of the Year, the 54-year-old led the Bucks to an NBA title in 2021, but was let go two seasons later after failing to return the franchise to the NBA Finals.

The Suns' new coach has a long history of success, both as an assistant and the head guy. He won four NBA titles with the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant under Gregg Popovich. Budenholzer was hired to lead the Atlanta Hawks in 2013, and in five seasons went 213-197 (.520). In 2015 he was named Coach of the Year when the Hawks won the Southeast Division, and he led them to the playoffs four times. The two sides parted after the team failed to reach the postseason in 2018.

The Bucks hired Budenholzer a few weeks after he left Atlanta. The team proceeded to win the Central Division in each of his five seasons in charge. He went 271-120 (.693) as Milwaukee's head coach, was named coach of the year in 2019, and the Bucks won the aforementioned championship in 2021. Milwaukee was bounced from the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2022 and the first round in 2023, which led to Budenholzer's ouster.

The Suns were a big disappointment during the 2023-24 season. Despite boasting a high-priced Big Three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, they finished with a 49-33 record and earned the Western Conference's sixth seed. Phoenix was then swept out of the playoffs by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Budenholzer will have his hands full turning around his new team's fortunes with a top-heavy roster, not much depth and without a true point guard to lead the way. The Suns are investing heavily in the notion that he's the guy who can do it.


Published
Ryan Phillips

RYAN PHILLIPS

Ryan Phillips is a Senior Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Ryan has worked in digital media since 2009, spending eight years at The Big Lead before joining the SI team in 2024. He also co-hosts The Assembly Call Podcast about Indiana Hoosiers basketball and previously worked at Bleacher Report. Ryan is a proud San Diego native and a graduate of Indiana University’s journalism school.