Budenholzer, the 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year, and the organization finalized terms of a split Wednesday night.
“I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here,” Budenholzer told ESPN on Wednesday night. “From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”
Budenholzer had two years and more than $14 million left on his contract, with the Hawks headed into a full rebuilding process.
Atlanta owner Tony Ressler and general manager Travis Schlenk met Budenholzer on Tuesday night in Atlanta and ultimately decided that a separation was the best course for everyone, league sources said.
The Hawks gave Budenholzer permission to speak with the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks for their coaching openings last week. Budenholzer interviewed with the Knicks on Sunday, and he remains a candidate for the job, league sources said. He pulled out of contention for the Suns’ job after several conversations with ownership and management.
Atlanta is interested in pursuing a young coach on the rise to evolve with the rebuilding of its roster. Atlanta has three first-round picks in the June NBA draft and the No. 33 overall pick early in the second round. Atlanta also owns Cleveland’s 2019 first-round pick, which is top-10 protected.
Candidates the Hawks are expected to consider to replace Budenholzer include Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, Portland Trail Blazers assistants Nate Tibbetts and David Vanterpool, and San Antonio Spurs assistants Ime Udoka and James Borrego.
Considered one of the NBA’s best tacticians, Budenholzer also had been the Hawks’ president of basketball operations — until surrendering front-office control with the arrival of Schlenk in the spring of 2017.
Budenholzer earned his Coach of the Year honors after a 60-victory regular season with the Hawks and a trip to the 2015 Eastern Conference finals. The Hawks reached the playoffs in four of his first five seasons. Atlanta dropped to 24-58 this season, with the organization’s mandate to shed salary and gather draft picks and future assets.
He compiled a 230-219 overall record, which included a 17-22 postseason mark.
Budenholzer spent 17 years as an assistant under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich before his hiring in Atlanta in 2013. He won four NBA titles as a member of the Spurs’ staff.