Mike Budenholzer 'would go anywhere' to coach this Suns team

Budenholzer on Suns: 'I'd coach this team if it was on the moon' (1:03)

New Suns coach Mike Budenholzer expresses how grateful he is to be coaching the Suns. (1:03)

Mike Budenholzer got a little teary-eyed talking about his past in Arizona, describing an idyllic childhood in the small town of Holbrook, about three hours northeast of Phoenix.

Those tears dried up in a hurry when talking about his future.

"It's mind-boggling to me, like mind-blowing, to think that I'm going to be the head coach of the Phoenix Suns," Budenholzer said Friday during an introductory news conference in downtown Phoenix.

Budenholzer, 54, replaces Frank Vogel, who was fired May 9 after one disappointing season. The two-time NBA Coach of the Year will be charged with getting more out of the team's All-Star trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal as the franchise continues to chase a championship.

The group never quite meshed last season under Vogel, finishing with a 49-33 record before getting swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs.

"I'm excited about working with this roster and these players," Budenholzer said. "We have great players. And with great players come great expectations. I think we embrace that."

Budenholzer spoke Friday in front of a few dozen family and friends, including his 94-year-old father, Vince, whom Budenholzer called "the original coach Bud." Mike Budenholzer won the 2021 NBA title while leading the Milwaukee Bucks -- a championship that came at the expense of the Suns.

Phoenix has never won a title, advancing to the Finals three times in 56 seasons.

Budenholzer was fired by the Bucks in 2023 after five seasons and didn't coach in the NBA this season. He also coached the Atlanta Hawks from 2013 to 2018 and has a 484-317 record over 10 seasons.

Before he went to Atlanta, Budenholzer spent 17 years as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs and coach Gregg Popovich.

"This year, for me, was really healthy," Budenholzer said. "I kind of had a list of priorities, diving into my kids and my family, super important. We've been through a lot. So really, the time with my kids was just amazing. My son's a senior in high school -- going to every one of his games -- driving home you're like, 'Wow, I got a gift.'"

As much as he loved the chance to recharge, he is ready to get back on the court.

"I'd like to keep coaching as much and as long as I can," Budenholzer said.

In addition to bringing in Budenholzer, the Suns are closing in on hiring Brooklyn Nets executive Matt Tellem to the franchise's front office, sources told ESPN's Tim MacMahon on Friday.

The organization faces a difficult task in reshaping the Suns' roster. Phoenix doesn't have much room to maneuver under the league's salary cap because of the big contracts for Booker, Durant and Beal. The team's other two projected starters -- Grayson Allen and Jusuf Nurkic -- are also under contract for next season.

The Suns didn't have a true point guard this season and struggled with turnovers, particularly in the fourth quarter. Budenholzer made it sound like he would like to add at least one point guard during the offseason.

"The conversations have been great, and there's no doubt that we need to look at the whole roster and talk about point guard," Budenholzer said. "I'm sure it's a hot-button issue here, whether it's with the media, players or the front office. We need to think about it.

"We need to be able to play without one. We probably need to be able to have one. We need to be versatile -- play different ways."

But before he starts thinking about point guards or turnovers, the coach spent much of Friday savoring his chance at a dream job.

"The biggest message I want you to hear is that I would coach this team if it was on the moon," Budenholzer said, grinning. "I would coach this team if it was in Alaska. If these players were in Denmark. ... I would go anywhere to coach this team."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.