Why Mike Budenholzer is a great head coaching fit for the Knicks
On Wednesday night, the Atlanta Hawks parted ways with head coach Mike Budenholzer. The mutually agreed upon departure comes after much frustration from the former coach of the year. Budenholzer has spent the majority of the postseason shopping for a new team, including New York. On Sunday, the New York Knicks had a promising interview with Budenholzer in hopes that he would fill their head coaching vacancy. In early April, the Knicks fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after two seasons. Since then, New York has been interviewing replacement candidates to take the reins of this team. Some of the most notable candidates in consideration have been Mark Jackson, Jerry Stackhouse, and Jason Kidd. However, out of all the candidates, Budenholzer may be the best fit.
The Bigger Picture
Budenholzer knows how to make a winning organization. In 2015, he coached the Atlanta Hawks to 60 wins. The team was so good that it sent four of its five starters (Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, and Paul Millsap) to the All-Star game. Prior to his run with the Hawks, Budenholzer spent time under the wing of possibly the greatest coach of All-time, Greg Popovich. Budenholzer left the Spurs at the end of its playoff run in 2013. The Spurs have been crowned as having the best system in basketball. Budenholzer successfully brought a Spurs mindset to the Hawks, which initially worked for the team. However, after the Hawks shipped off all of their major pieces, it was harder for the team to get the job done. Frustration set in, leading to the mutual departure decision on Wednesday.
While working in Atlanta, Budenholzer was tasked with developing the Hawk’s young talent. Budenholzer worked on developing Jeff Teague, who became an All-star, Dennis Schroder, and the Knicks very own Tim Hardaway Jr. Since returning from the Hawks, Hardaway Jr. has been the Knicks’ second best player and had his best season yet. With Budenholzer at the helm, the Knicks can continue the same vision of a developed, young core. The team is still looking to improve the play of Frank Ntilikina who will most likely be a starter next season. Additionally, the Knicks are presumed to have the ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft and will look to incorporate their pick early on. Furthermore, Kristaps Porzingis will eventually return from injury and will need good coaching to ease him back into his stellar level of play. Having a guy like Budenholzer will definitively advance the front office’s vision.
The Knicks need a new head coach immediately. The right man for the job will not necessarily fix all the team’s woes. However, Budenholzer can bring the Spurs mindset to the Knicks that worked so well for the Hawks. Budenholzer already has a familirity with Tim Hardawy Jr., which will make it easier to adjust to the team’s offense in order to improve it. Additionally, he can continue to develop the defensive prowess of Frank Ntilikina and create a culture of defense in the Big Apple. To win in the modern NBA, teams need to have a winning system, and that is exactly what Budenholzer brings to the table.