MILWAUKEE (BVM) – There aren’t many people across the NBA who thought the Milwaukee Bucks’ season would end before the calendar hit May. Going 58-24 while claiming the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, as well as the best overall record in the league, the Bucks appeared poised to vie for their second NBA championship in the past three seasons.
However, that all came crashing down as soon as the playoffs hit. Facing off against the No. 8 seed Miami Heat, Milwaukee struggled throughout its first-round series, losing Game 1 as Giannis Antetokounmpo got injured, getting soundly dominated in Game 3 in Miami, and then blowing double-digit fourth quarter leads in both Games 4 and 5 to lose the series 4-1.
Not only did most not see the Bucks’ season coming to an end so soon, but they also probably didn’t envision Milwaukee would be searching for a new head coach at the beginning of May.
Following the playoff collapse, rumors began to swirl that the Bucks could move on from five-year head coach Mike Budenholzer.
“Mike Budenholzer’s status as Bucks head coach is very much shaky, there are questions across the organization… I’m told Budenholzer has two years and $16 million left on his contract.”
— The Rally (@TheRally) April 27, 2023
Throughout the Heat series, Budenholzer made a number of questionable decisions, perhaps none more so than failing to call a timeout with the Bucks’ season on the line in Game 5 at both the end of regulation and in overtime when the team was one basket away from a win.
On Thursday, the rumors were confirmed, as Budenholzer was fired by the team.
BREAKING: The Milwaukee Bucks dismissed coach Mike Budenholzer, sources tell ESPN. Budenholzer is out after the East’s top-seed suffered a first-round loss to the Miami Heat. pic.twitter.com/wQp0Zk3lxi
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 4, 2023
Across his five seasons in Milwaukee, Coach Bud went an impressive 271-120 in the regular season, with a 38-23 record in the playoffs. He led the team to an NBA championship in 2021, Milwaukee’s first in 50 years.
However, it’s the postseason failures Budenholzer is remembered for by many Bucks fans. After taking a 2-0 lead in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, the Bucks lost four straight games to lose the series 4-2 to the Toronto Raptors. In 2020, the No. 1 seed Bucks were upset by Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in the NBA bubble.
Last season, the Bucks lost in the East semifinals to the Celtics in seven games despite having a closeout Game 6 at home. And this year, they became just the fifth No. 1 seed in league history to lose a series to a No. 8 seed.
Now, the Bucks will search for a new direction at the top. With an aging roster and a championship window that might slowly be closing, the next head-coaching hire for Milwaukee will be a crucial one. Here’s a look at the top five candidates to become the Bucks’ next head coach.