Budenholzer, who came out of the Spurs’ coaching tree rooted in defense, had solid success in turning around Tim Hardaway Jr.’s career in Atlanta.
Hardaway has given Budenholzer mounds of credit for making him a better defender and forcing him to get into better shape. Knicks brass is obsessed with making the club stronger defensively next season and creating that as an identity.
Hardaway, in his second stint with the Knicks, sounded frustrated at the firing of Jeff Hornacek, noting the next coach will mark the fifth he has played for in his NBA career. If Budenholzer were to take over, however, it would be still be four.
“[Budenholzer’s staff] made me mature as a ballplayer on and off the floor, made me an all-out competitor, the grinding, the time I spend with the coaching staff and strength coach,’’ Hardaway said earlier this season. “It was very memorable. The atmosphere was something I’ll never be able to describe.”