The Milwaukee Bucks announced the firing of head coach Mike Budenholzer on May 4th and have since commenced their search to fill that position for the 2023-24 NBA season. Coach Bud leaves Milwaukee following the team finishing the season with the league’s best record, but ultimately the way the team crashed out of the playoffs led to his departure. He will forever be remembered by Bucks fans for bringing a championship back to Milwaukee for the first time since the 1970s and consistently putting the team in a position to win titles. The love for him was shown by fans on social media as many praised and thanked him for all he had done for the franchise, along with a heartfelt statement from Bud himself titled “Milwaukee – Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!”
Today, we received an update from NBA insider Andrian Wojnarowski on the search and those that have been granted permission to interview for the position. Three names have been released, and more candidates are expected to be announced soon, but let’s take a look at those named and what they can bring to Milwaukee.
1 – Kenny Atkinson – Golden State Warriors Associate HC
The first name given by Woj was that of Warriors associate head coach Kenny Atkinson. Milwaukee has been given permission to speak to the former Brooklyn Nets head coach, who, to the surprise of many, has not had another opportunity to lead a team. He led the Nets from 2016-2020 before resigning from the position of Head Coach on March 7, 2020.
His most impressive season in charge of the Nets was the 2018-19 season, the year after losing franchise leading scorer and current Buck Brook Lopez to the Los Angeles Lakers. In this season, he led the team to a 42-40 record and clinched the six seed in the Eastern Conference with a roster that many expected to not be up to too much, as he helped revitalize the careers of D’Angelo Russell, Joe Harris, and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Following his time in Brooklyn, he was hired as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers before making the move to Golden State in 2021. As we know the Warriors won the championship in 2022 and that was the first of Atkinson’s career. He reportedly turned down the offer of being the head coach for the Charlotte Hornets following the season. One interesting thing to note is that Atkinson has worked under coach Bud and offensive head coach Mike D’Antoni early in his career and an imprint of both styles has been seen in his play.
Per The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer (Subscription required), Kenny Atkinson is excellent when it comes to analytics, and that was a key reason why the Warriors took him on and helped them win the title last season. He likes to run a motion-based offense where any player can bring the ball up the court and initiate a motion-strong offense. This may suit working with a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo and help create a more positionless style of basketball that could see Giannis spending more time at center.
I am not surprised to see Atkinson linked, as he worked wonders in Brooklyn, and most fans around the league have always wondered what he could do with a stronger roster. I myself would be interested to see what he could do with a strong roster like the Bucks and what ideas he could bring to Milwaukee. It’s early days, but he may be one to keep an eye on.