The Milwaukee Bucks’ shock first-round exit from the NBA playoffs has put head coach Mike Budenholzer’s future with the team in jeopardy. Despite leading the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Bucks to the best regular season record in the league and securing the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the team’s playoff performance has called into question Budenholzer’s ability to lead them to championship success.
“Mike Budenholzer’s status as Bucks head coach is very much shaky, there are questions across the organization… I’m told Budenholzer has two years and $16 million left on his contract.”
— The Rally (@TheRally) April 27, 2023
NBA experts Zach Lowe and Shams Charania have both expressed doubts about Budenholzer’s future with the team. Lowe stated on his podcast that “league insiders are extremely skeptical that Mike Budenholzer can return as head coach of the Bucks after this.” Charania also suggested that “Budenholzer’s status as Bucks head coach is very much shaky.”
Budenholzer has a two-year, $16 million contract extension that runs until the end of the 2024-2025 season. However, the team’s disappointing playoff performance has raised questions about whether he is the right coach to lead the team to a championship. The Bucks were expected to make a deep playoff run, but they were eliminated by the Miami Heat in the first round in a shocking upset.
The loss has been especially tough on star player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has faced criticism for his inability to lead the team to playoff success. Antetokounmpo defended the team’s season in his post-game press conference, stating that it was not a failure despite the disappointing playoff exit. However, the team’s performance has led many to question whether changes need to be made, including potentially replacing Budenholzer as head coach.
For Budenholzer, this is not unfamiliar territory. He was fired by the Atlanta Hawks in 2018 after leading the team to the playoffs but failing to make a deep run. Now, he faces a similar situation with the Bucks. While he has had regular season success with the team, his inability to deliver in the playoffs may cost him his job.
The Bucks will need to evaluate their options and decide whether Budenholzer is the right coach to lead them forward. While his regular season record is impressive, the team’s playoff performance ultimately determines success in the NBA. As Lowe noted, “There’s some losses for which there’s just no going back. You cannot come back to the same team, and the Bucks cannot come back the same team from this.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo Refuses to Call Bucks’ Loss a Failure
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the leader of the Milwaukee Bucks, refused to characterize their loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference playoffs as a failure.
Despite becoming the sixth number one team to lose to an eighth in a best-of-seven series in NBA history, Antetokounmpo stated that there is “no failure in sports.” He acknowledged that while some days are successful, others are not, and that every year, teams work towards a goal with steps to success.
Antetokounmpo’s back injury in the first game of the series sidelined him for the second and third games, which ultimately hampered the Bucks. Although he expressed disappointment with the loss, Antetokounmpo believed that it was not a failure and that “everybody handles it differently.” He added that he would “think about it all summer,” but acknowledged that he would likely be in this situation again.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer also declined to label their season as a failure, recognizing the team’s high expectations and the hard work put in by the general manager and ownership. Despite the disappointment and frustration, Budenholzer stated that they love their team and believe in them.