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Former Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer takes over for the team he beat in the NBA Finals

Former Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer takes over for the team he beat in the NBA Finals


PHOENIX (AP) — Mike Budenholzer is the newest head coach of the Phoenix Suns, with the franchise turning to the man who beat them in the 2021 NBA Finals.

The 54-year-old Budenholzer replaces Frank Vogel, who was fired Thursday after one season. Budenholzer agreed to the deal on Friday and the team made the hiring official with Saturday’s announcement.

The Suns did not release terms of the contract. ESPN and The Athletic both reported that Budenholzer’s deal was for five years, with The Athletic saying it was worth roughly $50 million.

Budenholzer — who is from Holbrook, Arizona — was coach of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021 when they roared back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Suns in the Finals.

“We’re excited to name Mike as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns and bring him back to his home state of Arizona,” team owner Mat Ishbia said in a statement. “Mike has proven himself to be among the most successful head coaches in the NBA. He is the right leader to take us to the next level and reach our championship goals.”

Phoenix has never won a championship, advancing to the Finals three times in 56 seasons.

The two-time NBA coach of the year will be charged with getting more out of the team’s All-Star trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. The group never quite meshed under Vogel, finishing the season with a 49-33 record before getting swept by Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs.

“I am honored to be named head coach of the Phoenix Suns, the team I grew up watching,” Budenholzer said. “I would like to thank Mat Ishbia, Josh Bartelstein and James Jones for the opportunity to lead this team. I’m grateful to have a talented roster of players who are ready to compete and play a style of basketball that will bring out the best in all of them, and bring them together as we compete for championships.”

Budenholzer was fired by the Bucks in 2023 after five seasons and he didn’t coach in the NBA this past season. He coached the Atlanta Hawks from 2013 to 2018 and has a 484-317 record over 10 seasons.

TOP PHOTO: FILE – Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) listens to head coach Mike Budenholzer during the first half of Game 2 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, Monday, May 24, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

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