Person of interest: The 411 on potential Raptors coach Budenholzer

Eric Smith and Michael Grange discuss Masai Ujiri's emotional decision to fire head coach Dwane Casey.

The Toronto Raptors are interested in making Mike Budenholzer their next coach, according to reports.

As soon as Dwane Casey was fired last week, the speculation began around Budenholzer.

Here’s what you need to know about the potential Raptors coach.

Name: Mike Vincent Budenholzer
Age: 48
Birthplace: Holbrook, Ariz.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Pomona College

Family: Budenholzer is of German descent and is the youngest of seven children. He’s the son of Vince Budenholzer, who coached high school and college basketball for 25 years. Budenholzer himself has four children (two boys and two girls).

Record: Budenholzer finished with a 213-197 regular-season record and a 17-22 post-season record in five seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.

Credentials

Budenholzer was the NBA’s 2015-16 Coach of the Year after a season in which he put up a 60-win campaign with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hawks reached the playoffs in four of his first five seasons.

After Danny Ferry resigned in June of 2015 after an investigation about racial insensitivity in the organization, Budenholzer became the Hawks’ president of basketball operations and had final decision in all basketball matters. Budenholzer would then surrender front-office control after the arrival of new GM Travis Schlenk in the spring of 2017.

Budenholzer is considered one of the NBA’s best culture builders and X’s and O’s coaches in the NBA. His acumen is both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, although he’s best known for his ball and man movement offence. His offences have been predicated on lots of cutting and off-ball screens.

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Spurs Staffer

Budenholzer became the Spurs’ video coordinator in 1994 at the ripe age of 25. He was promoted to assistant coach in 1996.

He spent 17 years as an assistant under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich before his hiring in Atlanta in 2013. He won four NBA titles as a member of the Spurs’ staff and is credited for the blistering ball movement that San Antonio became known for.

Why is he available?

While still under contract with the Hawks, he was permitted to meet with the Phoenix Suns in mid-April before pulling his name out of the running.

After an abysmal 24-58 season in 2017-18, Budenholzer agreed to part ways with the Atlanta Hawks and owner Tony Ressler on April 25th. Budenholzer didn’t agree with the organization’s ideology under Schlenk to cut salary, accumulate draft picks and future assets. He had two years and over $13 million left on his contract.

Also struggled versus LeBron

Just like the Raptors, he’s struggled against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. While averaging over 30 points a game, LeBron James eliminated the Hawks by way of a four-game sweep two consecutive years, ending their 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

Suspended

One of his flaws is he’s known to get hot on the sideline. The most egregious example was when Budenholzer was suspended one game without pay for making contact with a referee during a loss to the Cavaliers in March of 2017. Budenholzer was upset that there wasn’t an offensive foul called against James, and bumped into the back of an official while voicing his displeasure.

Anunoby dunk incident

His temper was also directed towards Raptors rookie OG Anunoby back in December.

After Anunoby intercepted an off-target pass by the Hawks’ Isaiah Taylor and went the other way for a dunk with 17 seconds left in a blowout, Budenholzer was incensed. On the way back down the court, Budenholzer scolded Anunoby. At the end of regulation time, Budenholzer seemed to ignore former Raptors coach Dwane Casey when confronted about the incident. Casey responded to his potential predecessor with some expletives while defending his player.

Other interest

Budenholzer was allowed to interview for the Suns job while still under contract with Atlanta. After pulling his name out of the running for that opportunity, Budenholzer was a candidate for the New York Knicks gig before they settled on David Fizdale.

Along with interest from the Raptors, Budenholzer is being considered for arguably the most intriguing job in the league — the underachieving Milwaukee Bucks opening. The most interesting part of the job is the fact that Giannis Antetokounmpo is under team control through 2020-21. Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe are also under team control through 2018-19. Their only key free agent is Jabari Parker, who is restricted. They also have a 17th-overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Yearbook quote

He clearly has a sense of humour. His high school yearbook quote after his senior year at Holbrook High School in Phoenix was “It’s time to make the dough-nuts.”

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