The long-term ramifications for the Milwaukee Bucks as they head into Game 7 of their series with the Brooklyn Nets are high.
With plenty of rumors surrounding Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks’ coaching staff as coaching vacancies continue to grow around the league, jobs are clearly on the line going into this do-or-die situation.
On that note, there’s more fuel to the fire that former Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle may be in play for Milwaukee as rumors continue to grow after Carlisle shockingly resigned from his position in Dallas Thursday afternoon.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein subsequently reported after Carlisle’s resignation that rumblings have grown over weeks about the Bucks being a destination for the 62-year-old.
On the most recent episode of The Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Brian Windhorst touched on Carlisle’s departure from Dallas and how the Bucks may be playing into his exit strategy:
“Windhorst: How fast is (Carlisle) going to have another job? Is he going to have a job by Independence Day?
MacMahon: I know Rick Carlisle very well. He’s obviously an extremely intelligent man. He’s a planner, he’s a plotter. He’s a pilot. Rick’s plane has a parachute. If he wants to hit a button, it has a parachute. Rick ain’t going up in the air without a parachute. He’s sure as hell ain’t jumping off the plane unless he knows he has a sturdy parachute. Read the statement Rick gave to Adrian Wojnarowski. ‘I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my coaching career.’ He has something lined up.
“There’s two destinations that are heavily rumored. The first you just mentioned is the Bucks and if Bud goes, Rick would move in there would immediately allow him to take over a championship contending team.”
Milwaukee Bucks may be in line for a coaching change even as they fight for their season
While MacMahon noted that the other rumored destination for Carlisle could be the Indiana Pacers, whom he coached from 2003 to 2007, the allure of coaching a championship contender is seemingly what Carlisle wants. Just as Wojnarowski outlined with MacMahon on the most recent episode of ‘The Woj Pod:’
“Rick sees a market place where he’s going to be wanted. Rick’s not a fit everywhere right now and I don’t think everywhere is a fit for Rick in terms of the jobs that are available. But I think the teams that are more of a win-now mode, who have playoff teams and who are trying to either win a championship or maybe advance deeper than they might have in the playoffs otherwise without him, are going to take a look at Rick Carlisle.”
Well, if that doesn’t fit the Bucks to a T, I’m not sure what does.
Of course, from an optics point of view, it certainly looks unseemly that there’s much smoke between the Bucks and a free agent head coach while Milwaukee’s season is still ongoing and they have a chance to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. The counter to that would be this hasn’t stopped the Bucks’ current ownership group before as they hired a coach in place on an opposing team (Jason Kidd) while having a coach in place (Larry Drew) upon their arrival in Milwaukee back in the summer of 2014.
Whatever the case may be, the coaching carousel may soon envelop Milwaukee if their season ends in Brooklyn Saturday night. If not, there’s plenty of smoke that Budenholzer’s days are numbered if they fall short of making the NBA Finals.