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Report: Mike Budenholzer guaranteed the $13 million remaining on his Hawks contract

Hawks Budenholzer Basketball

FILE - In this April 6, 2018, file photo, Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer gestures during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards in Washington. The Hawks and Budenholzer mutually agreed to part ways on Wednesday, April 25, according to the team. The Hawks announced the move Wednesday night in a brief three-sentence statement. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)


The Hawks and Mike Budenholzer parted ways.

It’ll cost Atlanta.

Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Budenholzer had two years and approximately $13 million remaining on his contract. He will get it all, which is a lump Hawks owner Tony Ressler did not want to swallow. But if Budenholzer is hired by another organization, which is expected -- he’s currently a candidate for the New York Knicks’ job -- his new salary will shrink the Hawks’ financial obligations.

This speaks to how badly Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk wanted a different coach and/or Atlanta’s confidence Budenholzer will land another job.

It made sense the Hawks would want a cheaper coach than Budenholzer. They’re just beginning their rebuild, and they don’t need someone with the cachet of a former Coach of the Year and former team president. They’d be fine with someone less-heralded and more focused on player development than winning immediately.

But now Atlanta is on track to pay that cheaper replacement and Budenholzer his full salary. That’s a cost increase, not a savings.

Unless Budenholzer gets hired elsewhere.

He seems interested. He reportedly really wants the Knicks job and previously spoke with the Suns. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucks show serious interest once their season ends. The specter of compensating the Hawks now off the table should only help Budenholzer get hired.

This is a pretty great outcome for Budenholzer. He can more easily pursue preferable jobs, and he has his Atlanta salary as a fallback.

It’s far more uncertain for the Hawks, who come out ahead only if Budenholzer gets hired elsewhere – or if they just wanted him gone that badly.