Bucks fire 2021 title-winning coach Budenholzer
The Milwaukee Bucks have fired head coach Mike Budenholzer after another promising season ended in an early playoff exit.
The Bucks announced the end of Budenholzer's tenure a week after they were eliminated in five games by the Miami Heat in a first-playoff series.
Budenholzer compiled a 271-120 regular-season record with the Bucks and helped lead Milwaukee to the NBA title in 2021, but each of his four other seasons ended in playoff disappointment.
"The decision to make this change was very difficult," Bucks general manager Jon Horst said on Thursday.
"Bud helped lead our team for five incredible seasons, to the Bucks' first title in 50 years, and into an era of sustained success. We are grateful for the culture of winning and leadership that Bud helped create in Milwaukee.
"This is an opportunity for us to refocus and reenergize our efforts as we continue building toward our next championship season."
Deciding Budenholzer's fate became more complicated when one of the coach's brothers died in a traffic accident before Game 4 – a factor that was made public after the Bucks were eliminated.
Budenholzer had long faced rumours of his dismissal.
The team's 2021 championship run held those rumours at bay for two years, but this season's stunning exit after a league-best 58-24 regular-season record spelled the end.
Playing with an injured Giannis Antetokounmpo, the top-seeded Bucks blew fourth-quarter leads in Games 4 and 5 against the No. 8 seed Miami, while players and Budenholzer himself admitted afterward that tactical errors played a role.
After the series-ending overtime loss, Antetokounmpo said the team should have made defensive adjustments against Jimmy Butler, who averaged 37.6 points across the matchups.
Stubbornness and inflexibility were frequent criticisms of Budenholzer throughout his tenure in Milwaukee, especially in the postseason.
In stints with the Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks, Budenholzer has a career 484-317 record (.604 winning percentage) and a 56-48 (.538) mark in the playoffs.