Say, how'd you like to hire Gregg Popovich to coach the Detroit Pistons?
Unfortunately, the longest-tenured coach in American professional sports is unavailable ... so how about pursuing his long-time No. 1 assistant? Meet Mike Budenholzer, who's been San Antonio's sideline since 1996-97 and serving as Pop's lead assistant since 2007-08. Here's his bio from the Spurs' media guide:
In his 19th season with the Spurs … now in his 17th season as an assistant coach and his sixth as the team’s number one assistant … he and R.C. Buford have enjoyed the longest tenure on the Spurs basketball operations staff (they were both hired by Gregg Popovich in the summer of 1994) … started with the Spurs as the team’s video coordinator … served in that position for two seasons before being named an assistant coach in the summ. of 1996 … has served as the head coach of the Spurs summer league squads on numerous occasions … served as an advance scout for Team USA for the 2004 Olympics … a four-year letterman in both basketball and golf at Pomona-Pitzer … named the Outstanding Senior Athlete at Pomona College in 1992–93 … during the 1993–94 season, played professionally in Denmark for the Vejle Basketball Klub, averaging a team-high 27.5 points per game … at that time got his start in coaching, serving as the head coach for two different teams within the Vejle system …
But now ... the bad news. I asked J.R. Wilco from Pounding the Rock if he thought Budenholzer might be a good fit to take over the Pistons, and J.R. shot down the idea completely:
My understanding is that Mike is not interested in any other jobs besides the one he has. I don't believe that that is media speak for some other message. I think he's actually not interested.
This is pure speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised if Mike has been promised Pop's job when he leaves. Until that point, I think Mike really wants to stay where he is under Pop even if he could make more money elsewhere as a head coach.
Again: this is pure speculation. Popovich is 64 years old, but who knows how long he wants to coach? Larry Brown coached in the NBA until he was 70 (and he's still coaching in college), while guys like Paul Silas, Don Nelson and Jerry Sloan all coached into their late 60s (and Sloan's reportedly itching to return!). My point is, if Budenholzer is holding out for Pop's spot, he could be waiting another several years.
The catch, of course, is that even if he's ready to jump ship, why would he toss aside two decades of loyalty to join a franchise that changes coaches more often than most people change their furnace filter? (Random analogy, I know, but when's the last time you changed yours?) It probably won't happen.
But if it did ... I'd be down. What about you?