2-Time NBA Coach of the Year Favorite to Replace Suns’ Frank Vogel: Report

Suns coach Frank Vogel

Getty Recently fired Phoenix Suns coach Frank Vogel reacts to a call against the Houston Rockets.

Former Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has quickly emerged as the frontrunner to become Phoenix Suns‘ new coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday, May 9, shortly after the Suns announced the firing of Frank Vogel.

“Budenholzer is the Suns’ target and talks are expected to move quickly, sources tell ESPN. He’s been working to assemble a coaching staff for a return to a head coaching job and that process is also gathering momentum, sources said,” Wojnarowski reported on X, formerly Twitter.

A two-time NBA Coach of the Year, Budenholzer is the only remaining available coach with a championship on his resume. He guided Milwaukee to its first NBA championship in 50 years in 2021. But the Bucks fired him two years after following their stunning first-round playoff loss to the Miami Heat last season.

Frank Vogel Underwhelmed in Lone Season with Suns

Vogel’s firing came after the Suns’ embarrassing sweep in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in the first season together of their Big Three of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. Vogel compiled a 49-33 record in his lone season with the Suns after signing a five-year, $31 million deal last year.

“As we said at the press conference on May 1, team leadership including myself, Josh Bartelstein, and ownership would be looking across basketball operations to determine what changes needed to be made,” Suns general manager James Jones said in a statement. “After a thoughtful review of the season, we concluded that we needed a different head coach for our team. We appreciate Frank’s hard work and commitment.”

Like Budenholzer, Vogel also a has a championship on his resume, guiding the Los Angeles Lakers with their star duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the Orlando Bubble in 2020. He was also fired two years later after a disappointing 33-49 finish.

Disconnect in Suns Locker Room Under Frank Vogel

The Suns are hoping to right the ship with their Big Three following a reported disconnect between Vogel and their stars this season.

Durant was at the center of it, according to Shams Charania and Doug Haller of The Athletic.

“Durant, among the best scorers in NBA history, was not always happy with how he was used,” Charania and Haller wrote. “Sources briefed on the matter told The Athletic that Durant never felt comfortable with his role in Phoenix’s offense alongside [Devin] Booker and [Bradley] Beal this season. Those sources said Durant had persistent issues with the offense, feeling that he was being relegated to the corner far too often and not having the proper designs to play to his strengths as the offense was built around pick-and-rolls. At the same time, some teammates and people close to the organization believed Durant needed to voice his concerns more adamantly and directly with Vogel and his coaching staff.”

Suns’ Next Coach’s Top Priority: Maximize Kevin Durant

In response to the report, Jones said they want to become the first team to maximize Durant’s talent.

“I tell you, that’s a constant focus for us to continue to figure out how to maximize Kevin Durant,” Jones said during his exit interview on May 1 at Footprint Center. “No one has done it yet. I believe we will be the first team to do it because if we can maximize him, we can maximize our entire roster. We’re a better team, but that’s not an issue. I think Kevin had a phenomenal season this year offensively.”

“I think he had some of the best stretches of his career this year,” Jones continued. “So it wasn’t an offensive thing. It wasn’t a utilization or usage thing. It was just the totality of figuring out when and where and how to do it together. We just could not get on the same page.”

Durant averaged 27.1 points on 52/41/86 shooting split across 75 games in his first full season with the Suns. It was the most games the 35-year-old superstar has played since returning from an Achilles injury in 2019.


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