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Suns plan to hire Mike Budenholzer as their next head coach, per report

The Suns fired Frank Vogel after a single season

            Sam Quinn

By Sam Quinn of cbssports.com contributing

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The Phoenix Suns are planning to hire Mike Budenholzer as their next head coach, according to Shams Charania of the Athletic. Budenholzer has coached the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks in the past, and won a championship for Milwaukee during the 2020-21 season. However, after getting upset by the Miami Heat in the first round of the 2022-23 season, the Bucks let him go. He took this season off, but is now back with another star-laden roster.

Lead assistant coach David Fizdale is expected to transition to a new front office role for the Suns, per reports.

The Suns have now hired their third head coach in three years under new owner Mat Ishbia, who inherited Monty Williams as his team’s leader when he took over the team in February of 2023. When Williams was fired following a second-round loss to the eventual champion Denver Nuggets, he was let go and eventually took over the Detroit Pistons. The Suns could have potentially hired Budenholzer at that point, but instead went with former Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel.

Vogel’s lone season in Phoenix was a disappointment relative to Ishbia’s sky-high expectations. Despite injuries limiting the amount of games star trio of Devin BookerBradley Beal and Kevin Durant could play together, Vogel led the Suns to 49 wins and the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. However, once there, they were swept out of the playoffs by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Reports after the fact suggested that Vogel had lost the locker room and that Durant in particular was unhappy with his role in the Suns offense.

Now Budenholzer will take over a Suns team that looks nothing like his previous rosters. In Atlanta, he led a ragtag group of role players to 60 wins because they fit well together and played team-first offense. Now he has three stars with very similar skill sets. In Milwaukee, his offense was based around Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ability to get to the basket and all of the 3-pointers that created. His Suns roster was among the most mid-range heavy shooting teams in the NBA last season, and those are shots Budenholzer teams rarely take.

Finding a balance is going to be tricky, but Budenholzer was the lone championship-winning coach available on the market this offseason aside from Vogel. As we witnessed with Vogel a season ago, the Suns aren’t looking for a developmental coach. They want and need to win now, so the are hiring the most accomplished coach on the market.

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