Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer discusses a no doubt difficult situation with Kent Bazemore. ()
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If Budenholzer bolts, what should Hawks get in return?

As a coach, Mike Budenholzer is top notch. Smart and demanding, even if he is prone to raise his voice at the kids every now and then. Give the man a whiteboard and he will draw up the sharpest inbounds play you’ve ever seen. A work of art, really. 

Now that he is also an asset, coveted perhaps by one of the few teams worse than his own Hawks this season, it does no one any good to find flaws. For purposes of resale, Budenholzer is a mint condition, low-mileage coach. We’ll even throw in an extended warranty.   

It was so very nice of the Hawks to give Phoenix permission to interview Budenholzer for their coaching vacancy, but nice ends there. If all goes well out in the desert – and no reason it shouldn’t given the Suns stated desire to hire an established NBA head coach – then it is time for the Hawks to put on a little full-court press for compensation.

Even if Budenholzer is dissatisfied with how his personnel decision-making powers were undercut here, even if he’ll have to swim against the current of a major roster rebuild for seasons more in Atlanta, he’s not someone you just let walk. 

A former NBA coach of the year, with two years remaining under contract, Budenholzer is not a throw-away guy. He has trade value – and even in a players’ league, he may be more valuable than just about anyone else in the employ of the Hawks. Not untouchable, mind you – that designation may be reserved for John Collins alone among all the Hawks. But still not a piece one just gives away.

What’s market value for a coach, anyway?

Well, in 2013 the L.A. Clippers hired away Doc Rivers, who had three years remaining on his Boston Celtics deal. Boston got an unprotected 2015 first-round draft pick, that turned out to be inconsequential for the Celtics. They took R.J. Hunter out of Georgia State (he was waived a year later).

When Stan Van Gundy went from Miami to Orlando in 2007, he was worth a second-round draft pick. That turned out to be one Darnell Jackson.

So, by all appearances, if you don’t get extraordinarily lucky you don’t get rich in the used coach market. But compensation must be paid.

The Hawks hardly require any more first-round picks this season – they already have three of them coming. Unless, of course, the Hawks could flip top picks with Phoenix (with the league’s worst record, the Suns have the best lottery odds to land the No. 1 overall). You never know until you ask.

More likely the Hawks will get a future pick – and anything less than a first-rounder is an insult to Budenholzer.  

And, you know, I really like that Phoenix Suns Gorilla. You can never have too much depth at mascot. Just spit-balling here.

Whatever, it behooves us now give this guy nothing but very positive Yelp reviews. If anyone asks, he is the Patton of NBA tacticians, the Tony Robbins of motivational leaders. No time now to undersell Budenholzer’s coaching.

That will happen soon enough after he’s gone, no doubt. 

About the Author

Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer writes sports features for the AJC, mainly for the Sunday section. He covers a range of sports and topics.» If you're not a subscriber, click...