Marc Stein: Carlisle had two years left on his contract in Dallas, but there are five other coaching openings in the NBA and possibly more forthcoming. He’ll easily land another job. Rumblings about Milwaukee as a destination — IF the Bucks make a change — have been circulating for weeks.
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This is not new, it’s been the buzz from sources around the league for most of this season and been reported before: If the Milwaukee Bucks fall flat in the playoffs, Mike Budenholzer will be fired. Consider this an update and emphasis on the theme, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on his podcast, The Woj Pod (hat tip Real GM).
Woj: “If Game 3 was the apex of this series for them, I think it’s very unlikely and very difficult for them to keep Bud. He has a year left on his deal. They could have extended him early in the season or in the offseason. They chose not to. They were going to really ride this year out. “I don’t know if he has to come back and win it… If it ends in a thud, it’s hard to imagine he’s back.”
Some of those NBA officials are now wondering whether Budenholzer’s time in Milwaukee is about to expire – especially if the Bucks don’t make a deep playoff run. “Bud knows the situation he’s in,’’ an NBA executive, who knows Budenholzer, said. “There’s a lot of pressure on him, no doubt. He didn’t do so good in the playoffs the last two seasons even with maybe the best player in the league (Giannis). “Now, that they got Holiday. They gave up a fortune for him. So, he’s feeling the heat. I think they have to get to the Finals for him to keep his job.’’ Another NBA official echoes those comments, saying, “He’s on the hot seat. He has to win big in the playoffs. This is a tough business; it’s a bottom-line business.’’
A league source also suggested Budenholzer’s future in Milwaukee could hinge on another factor. “I’ve heard things about his relationship with the Greek Freak,’’ the official said. “I’ve heard it’s not the best. I heard Giannis accepts things from him and respects him because he’s the head coach.
There’s significant pressure on Budenholzer entering this postseason. And while the team dynamics are very healthy at the moment, with players happy with the coaching element and an internal confidence that they are the best team in the East, sources say Budenholzer is likely gone unless there’s a deep playoff run.
In the weeks that followed the loss to the Heat, when the Bucks were convincing Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign his supermax extension while dissecting their own demise at the same time, sources say there was a great deal of frustration aimed at Budenholzer that hasn’t been forgotten. The perceived lack of adjustments was a focal point, with Budenholzer himself admitting that coaching mistakes had been made along the way. Yet from ownership on down, there was an acknowledgment that the uniqueness of the environment had made it extremely hard to evaluate the true meaning of it all.
An NBA executive on Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer after Milwaukee’s recent trades: “His warm seat just got a lot warmer.’’
As Charania also reported, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is safe, but the questions surrounding his team’s postseason collapse will remain at the forefront.
As for head coach Mike Budenholzer, he is safe, according to sources. This much is certain, though: Across the Bucks‘ leadership group, there’s an understanding everyone must learn from this season and be better. They need to continue building a winning mentality, stocking the roster with key decision-makers.
“I don’t understand all the Bud hate,” the Eastern Conference general manager told HoopsHype. “They were underachieving with Jason Kidd. Bud gets there, and then they become the NBA’s best team in the regular season. I get where people say he doesn’t adjust in the playoffs. They were up 2-0 on the champs last year before losing.”
Budenholzer has now lost eight out of nine playoff games against teams with winning records. As this series played out, coaches, scouts and executives around the league hit on the same point: The Raptors and Heat simply asked more questions than the Bucks could answer, and Budenholzer refused to pivot. “In the NBA, you have to have the ability to build foundation and build habits and build fundamentals, which Milwaukee does,” an NBA assistant coach said. “But you have to have versatility and different gears you can get to as part of your fundamentals to beat good teams. “I don’t think Milwaukee has that, and Bud never did that in Atlanta either. It’s always been, ‘We do what we do.'”
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June 20, 2021 | 8:42 am EDT Update
And the Nets could engage in sign-and-trade talks using Spencer Dinwiddie. Reportedly, the Nets were engaged in talks at the deadline with the Warriors that would have sent the point guard to Golden State for Kelly Oubre and to Los Angeles and the Lakers for Kyle Kuzma. Per Bobby Marks in an ESPN+ analysis Sunday morning… A sign-and-trade deal with a team that doesn’t have significant cap space is an option, but that would require Brooklyn to take back salary in the trade, adding to an already high luxury tax bill. Brooklyn has a projected $53.4 million tax bill and would see that number double if the Nets took back $12 million in salary.
While on the NBA matter, the 55-year-old Efes coach also addressed the rumor mill surrounding EuroLeague MVP Vasilije Micic as well as the upcoming departure of Sertac Sanli to Barcelona. “There are a lot of candidates for the NBA, especially Vasilije Micic, but we are doing everything we can to keep them. While we were worried about Micic, Sertac Sanli’s transfer to Barcelona came out. He’s talking very seriously right now. Although, during our last visit, President Ergodan also warned him. He said, ‘what would you do there? Why would you leave the champions for the runner-ups?”. I’m saying the same thing.”
“We kept our composure throughout the whole series,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo after scoring 40 points with 13 rebounds in 50 minutes that, by the end, had drained him of many of his normal powers. “We were down 2-0, we were able to come back. We lost a game being up 15 [points in Game 5]. And against all odds in Game 7, we were able to come here, guard KD and get the win.”
There’s a lot of big-time talent and big-time teams at home or on vacation. The Bucks are still here. “There were a lot of ups and downs within the series. There were a lot of ups and downs in this game. Everybody fought extremely hard,” Antetokounmpo said. “I almost got emotional out there, we really wanted this.” You don’t always stride down the aisle to a championship coronation. Sometimes you beat the other guy by the toe of their Nikes.
Instead, it only briefly delayed their satisfaction. Milwaukee managed to outlast Brooklyn at Barclays Center and won 115-111 in overtime in an instant classic that saw both teams play to the brink of exhaustion. “That was, like, the longest game ever,” Bucks forward P.J. Tucker said. “It seemed like we were playing for hours. Just like a boxing match [that] just wasn’t going to end.”
For Lopez, that final stop meant the team erased a blunder he made at the end of regulation where he forgot that there were only 2.1 seconds left on the shot clock with 8.1 seconds remaining. By failing to take a shot, the Bucks came up with an empty possession and gave the Nets a chance to tie or win the game, which Durant managed to do by forcing overtime. Despite the mistake, Lopez remained determined to pull out a victory. “After that happened, I just took it upon myself,” Lopez said. “I told my teammates, ‘I made a mistake, but let’s go get this.’ I’m gonna fix this, we’re gonna fix this and so it happened, but it was great to see how resilient we were.”