Oh, how fast fortunes turn in the NBA.
Heading into the postseason, numerous sources around the league said that if the Bucks did not make a deep playoff run — as in making at least the conference Finals — Mike Budenholzer would be let go as coach. The buzz was that when Rick Carlisle left Dallas he held off on taking another job to see what would happen in Milwaukee, but when it became clear the Bucks were making a run he jumped to Indiana.
Now, after leading the Bucks to the franchise’s first championship in five decades, Budenholzer has agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Bucks, the team announced Tuesday.
This is a three-year extension beyond the one year he had remaining, keeping Budenholzer with the Bucks until at least the summer of 2025, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
“Bud is a great coach and a fantastic partner to work with every day as we build a team that consistently competes for championships,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said in a statement. “We’re extremely grateful for the leadership Bud provides and we look forward to building on the success we’ve had over the last three years and congratulate Bud on this well-deserved extension.”
“The appreciation I have for being a part of the Bucks organization is hard to express,” Budenholzer said. “And today, to realize that Marc and Wes and Jamie from our ownership group, along with Jon as our GM, have extended my contract to be the head coach is very special — thank you!
“The players make the success happen on and off the court. We have the best players and to them I am grateful… We all can’t wait to get back to work and face the great challenge of competing again for an NBA Championship. Again, being a part of the Bucks organization is very special. Let’s keep getting better and building great teams and doing great work on and off the court.”
Budenholzer took over for Jason Kidd — who was just hired as the Mavericks’ new coach — and instantly brought in a clearer plan on offense and especially on defense, one that better used the talents of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the other Bucks stars. That plan made the Bucks regular season monsters the first two seasons Budenholzer was with the team — they finished with the best record in the East both seasons — but the lack of system versatility or flexibility caught up with the Bucks in the postseason.
This past season, Budenholzer adjusted and built in more flexibility — for example, they did far more defensive switching this season than the previous two — and that, combined with what Jrue Holiday brought to the table on both ends of the floor, put the Bucks over the top. It made the Bucks champions.
And it earned Budenholzer a lot more money as coach.