Milwaukee Bucks Fire Mike Budenholzer, Nick Nurse to Take Over?

The 2021 NBA Title-winning coach Mike Budenholzer was fired by the Milwaukee Bucks after 5 years at the helm in reaction to their failure to make an impact during the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Despite delivering a title to Milwaukee, being voted Coach of the Year in 2019 and having an unprecedented winning regular-season record during his 5 years in charge at nearly 70% even coach Bud’s job wasn’t safe.

How Did It Get To Coach Bud’s Sacking?

The thought of sacking Mike Budenholzer looked ridiculous only just a month ago. The Bucks had just wrapped up another stellar regular season under coach Bud. They had the best regular-season record at 58-24. Came into the playoffs as the number 1 seed in the East and with guaranteed home-court advantage in every round. Then disaster struck and Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat eliminated the top favourites for the title in round 1 after a 4-1 victory. Coach Bud and his crew never found a way to slow down the one player hurting them in that series, that was ‘Playoff Jimmy’, and this is what cost the coach’s job after all.

Coach Budenholzer can’t be more proud of his 5 years at Milwaukee though. In 3 of those 5 years, the Bucks averaged over 70% during the regular season. Combined for those 5 years coach Bud’s regular-season record is 69.3% winning (271-120). This recent failure was the first time in the 5 years under Budenholzer the Bucks failed to win at least 1 playoff series. In 2019 he led Milwaukee to the Conference Finals, Budenholzeer was voted Coach of the Year for that run. Then in 2021 he went all the way and gave Milwaukee their first NBA Title in decades.

Yet, the reality of the coaching job made the freshly announced firing somewhat expected. The team tipped to win it all this year simply can’t lose against the 8th seed in the manner in which the Bucks did winning just 1 game in 5. This set an unwanted record that got coach Bud fired. The Bucks became the first team in 54 years (since the 68-69 Bullets) to have the best regular-season record and lose in round 1 winning less than 2 games.

Mike Budenholzer
(Photo by Johnny Fidelin/Icon Sport)

Is Nick Nurse the next Bucks Head Coach?

Winning an NBA Title clearly doesn’t give a head coach any stability After all 3 of the 4 coaches that won titles recently had been sacked within the last 18 months.

Coach Nick Nurse was released from the Toronto Raptors only a few weeks before the Bucks did the same to Budenholzer. Now it seems Nurse is tipped as the front runner to take the hot seat in Milwaukee, while literally 6 hours after his firing coach Bud has already been linked with the job in Toronto.

Nick Nurse to Milwaukee makes a lot of sense. In any case, after signing a $230 million extension Giannis will want a coach that can lead him to another title. Logically choosing someone that has already done that and worked with superstars in the past is a logical move. Those criteria mean that only Nick Nurse and Frank Vogel are in the running for the job. There are, of course, other paths for the Bucks that they will certainly consider in the coming days, in-house candidate and associate head coach Charles Lee being one of them, but ultimately with Giannis right now, in his prime we think the aim will be to bring a proven coach that could deliver more titles straight away. This is why we think the toss, in the end, will be between Nick Nurse and Frank Vogel, with Nurse our favourite as he threw his hat in the job conversation straight away.

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About the author


Iskra had a promising, at least she believed so, tennis and volleyball careers as a junior but a series of injuries ended her hopes to become a professional athlete very early.

Instead, she focused all her energy on her other passion, writing. For over a decade, Iskra had been a freelance sports writer. Football, basketball and tennis are the main fields of her expertise.