As the Milwaukee Bucks stumbled toward early playoff elimination at the hands of the Heat, the blame game started. Someone had to be at fault, and a lot of fingers were pointed at coach Mike Budenholzer. His inflexible systems, his playing Giannis Antetokounmpo 36 or fewer minutes a night (before Antetokounmpo’s ankle injury), and some questionable rotations had some fans calling for his head.
Budenholzer is going nowhere; he will be back.
As for head coach Mike Budenholzer, he is safe, according to sources. This much is certain, though: Across the Bucks‘ leadership group, there’s an understanding everyone must learn from this season and be better. They need to continue building a winning mentality, stocking the roster with key decision-makers.
If Budenholzer is safe, it’s because Antetokounmpo wants him back. With the potential of his contract extension coming up, potentially followed by free agency (or a trade), Antetokounmpo has a lot of power in the organization. It’s not his style to wield it like LeBron James, but if the Milwaukee front office thought there was tension between the coach and their star player, the coach would be shown the door.
For the Bucks to take the next step forward, there needs to be improvements across the board. The roster needs more playmaking and shooting, which is why the Chris Paul trade rumors are bouncing around the league. Budenholzer does need to be more flexible and play Antetokounmpo more minutes in big games. And then there is Antetokounmpo himself — the man needs a pull-up 15-foot jumper as a counter to teams forming a wall on his drives.
Milwaukee is in a desperate place — it needs to get better fast to prove to Antetokounmpo he can form the dynasty he wants there. To Antetokounmpo’s credit, he’s not forcing his way out of town, he wants to win in Milwaukee. But there needs to be changes and improvements.