Bucks: Ranking 6 replacements for Budenholzer after playoff meltdown (Updated)

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04 (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04 (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks
Charles Lee, Milwaukee Bucks. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images /

Bucks coach replacement No. 3: Charles Lee

Nearly every NBA team that has had a head-coaching opening over the past couple of years has reached out to Milwaukee to ask to interview assistant coach Charles Lee. After a brief overseas playing career, Lee began his coaching career in 2012 and two years later made his way to Mike Budenholzer’s staff in Atlanta, following Bud to Milwaukee in 2018.

Budenholzer’s coaching tree has seen a lot of success leaguewide over the years. Darvin Ham was the most recent assistant coach to fly the coop, and he is leading the Los Angeles Lakers deep into the playoffs in his first season. Taylor Jenkins has had the Memphis Grizzlies at the top of the league standings two seasons in a row. The aforementioned Kenny Atkinson saw success in Brooklyn.

Lee is familiar with the organization and with this team, and he has spent years building trust with the players. Giannis Antetokounmpo knows Lee, and that bedrock of a relationship would help the transition into the head chair. There is no question that Lee is qualified to be a head coach; the question is whether he is different enough from Budenholzer to make sense as a replacement.

There is historical precedent for firing a head coach, elevating his top assistant, and winning a championship. The Los Angeles Lakers famously did that not once but twice in the 1980s, and much more recently Nick Nurse took over for Dwane Casey in Toronto and won it all. If and when Budenholzer is fired, Lee will absolutely be a top candidate for the job.