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Report: Mike Budenholzer will return as Bucks’ coach

Mike Budenholzer Bucks

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - JULY 31: Head coach Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks is seen on the sidelines during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics Friday, July 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

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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. From Shams Charania of The Athletic.

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.

Budenholzer included.