Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer met with Phoenix Suns management and ownership on Monday and Tuesday, exploring the possibility of him becoming the Suns’ next head coach, league sources told ESPN.
Budenholzer met with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver over the two days, league sources said, after Atlanta granted him permission to meet with Phoenix late last week.
Budenholzer was the NBA’s 2015-16 Coach of the Year after a 60-victory regular season and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hawks reached the playoffs in four of his first five seasons. Atlanta dropped to 24-58 this season, with the organization’s mandate to shed salary, gather draft picks and future assets changing under Schlenk.
Budenholzer 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.
The change worked like a charm, as the Cavs jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the game’s first four minutes, all via LeBron James, who started 6-for-7 from the field, including a 3-pointer. After the Pacers ended the Cavs’ run on Bojan Bogdanovic’s free throw, James then added another 3-pointer — to account for Cleveland’s first 16 points.
In a lighthearted moment before the game, Lue said he would be ignoring the training staff’s directives on Korver, who also has been dealing with a sore right foot and has been on a minutes restriction.
“I’m not going by it,” Lue said, tongue firmly in cheek. “He might, but I’m not listening.”
Kyle Korver said he feels he’s “in a good spot” after dealing with his brother’s death and his own injury over the past month.
Smith was a rare bright spot for Cleveland in the series opener, scoring 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting in 29 minutes. Lue said that the playoff experience of Smith and Tristan Thompson with the Cavs was something he was weighing going into Game 2.