Hawks look to successful Spurs, pick Mike Budenholzer as coach
Has spent 17 years as San Antonio assistant
New Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer is "living a dream" as he makes plans to remain with the Spurs through the NBA finals before turning his full focus to his first NBA head coaching job.
Budenholzer, the longtime San Antonio assistant, was named the Hawks' coach on Tuesday, one day after the Spurs completed a four-game sweep of Memphis in the Western Conference finals.
"It's been a pretty amazing 48 hours, I'll be very honest with you," Budenholzer said on Wednesday as he was introduced by Hawks general manager Danny Ferry. "It's exciting for my family, exciting for me.
"The opportunity to come here with the Atlanta Hawks, when you couple that with coming to the NBA finals, I'm living a dream."
Budenholzer, 43, spent 19 years with the Spurs, including 17 seasons as an assistant. He was the top assistant for coach Gregg Popovich the past six years, but he may be a new name to many fans outside of San Antonio.
"I'm definitely not a sexy hire," Budenholzer said. "Thankfully, that wasn't on Danny's shopping list."
He said he'll bring lessons learned under Popovich, including a strong defensive philosophy.
Ferry came to the Hawks last year after two years as vice president of basketball operations for the Spurs. After his close view of Budenholzer's role with the Spurs, Ferry now is looking for the coach to bring at least part of San Antonio's winning system to Atlanta.
"Part of what's exciting about this for me is he has a great understanding of the league," Ferry said. "He's been part of San Antonio. He wasn't just in San Antonio like some of us were, he's been there for the duration. He's seen how it evolved. He's seen how it has grown. Mike, (general manager) R.C. (Buford) and Popp were the ones who were there the whole time."
Ferry said Hawks players will buy into Budenholzer's ability to clearly communicate his plans.
"I think Mike will certainly help us be more mentally tough by implementing clarity on a way to play that guys can and will believe in," Ferry said. "They'll buy in and they'll play hard." Budenholzer replaces Larry Drew, who was 128-102 in three seasons.