The Hawks and Mike Budenholzer parted ways.
It’ll cost Atlanta.
Budenholzer had two years and approximately $13 million remaining on his contract. He will get it all, which is a lump Hawks owner Tony Ressler did not want to swallow. But if Budenholzer is hired by another organization, which is expected — he’s currently a candidate for the New York Knicks’ job — his new salary will shrink the Hawks’ financial obligations.
This speaks to how badly Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk wanted a different coach and/or Atlanta’s confidence Budenholzer will land another job.
It made sense the Hawks would want a cheaper coach than Budenholzer. They’re just beginning their rebuild, and they don’t need someone with the cachet of a former Coach of the Year and former team president. They’d be fine with someone less-heralded and more focused on player development than winning immediately.
But now Atlanta is on track to pay that cheaper replacement and Budenholzer his full salary. That’s a cost increase, not a savings.
Unless Budenholzer gets hired elsewhere.
He seems interested. He reportedly really wants the Knicks job and previously spoke with the Suns. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucks show serious interest once their season ends. The specter of compensating the Hawks now off the table should only help Budenholzer get hired.
This is a pretty great outcome for Budenholzer. He can more easily pursue preferable jobs, and he has his Atlanta salary as a fallback.
It’s far more uncertain for the Hawks, who come out ahead only if Budenholzer gets hired elsewhere – or if they just wanted him gone that badly.