Mike Budenholzer has emerged as the centerpiece of the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors' coaching searches, and the two teams are preparing to spend the coming days competing for him, league sources told ESPN.
The Raptors opened talks with Budenholzer over the weekend, and those conversations were continuing Monday, league sources said. The Bucks considered Budenholzer their front-runner after the opening round of interviews and are working to re-engage him in talks that will include an ownership stake, league sources said.
Budenholzer, the 2015-16 NBA Coach of the Year, has shown significant interest in examining both job opportunities.
After the dismissal of highly successful coach Dwane Casey, Toronto is selling the returning core of a 59-win Eastern Conference No. 1 seed, a past NBA Executive of the Year in Masai Ujiri and a streamlined ownership group with immense resources and a willingness to spend.
Milwaukee is selling a transcendent young star in Giannis Antetokounmpo, a solid supporting cast and the opening of a new downtown arena next season.
For Budenholzer, the Bucks and Raptors represent the opportunity to return to Eastern
Conference contention. Budenholzer and the Atlanta Hawks parted ways in April, after the two sides could no longer see a path together with the franchise's rebuilding plans and new management structure.
Before the split, the Hawks gave Budenholzer permission to speak with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks for their coaching openings. He pulled out of contention for the Suns job after several conversations with ownership and management.
Considered one of the NBA's best tacticians, Budenholzer had been the Hawks president of basketball operations -- until surrendering front-office control with the arrival of general manager Travis Schlenk in the spring of 2017.