You remember Mike Budenholzer, right? I pined after him during the Pistons' last coaching search, and we briefly discussed him again a couple of weeks ago. Well, if you're comfortable rolling the dice on a first-time head coach in hopes of finding Popovich 2.0, you'll be happy to see Adrian Wojnarowski's report on Yahoo! from Friday afternoon:
Pistons president Joe Dumars traveled to San Antonio on Wednesday and spent several hours meeting with Budenholzer, the top assistant to Gregg Popovich.
To be perfectly honest, I don't actually know much about Budenholzer, but I love the idea of him. He's spent 16 years working under Gregg Popovich -- including the last five as Pop's top assistant. And after a decade and a half, certainly some of Pop's coaching genius has rubbed off, right?
Whenever Budenholzer's name popped up in previous rumors, the common refrain was that he's content biding his time in San Antonio as Pop's successor-in-waiting. That may no longer be the case. From Woj:
Budenholzer had involvement with the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors in recent years, and league sources say he's grown more inclined to listen to overtures from around the league.
As Woj notes, this meeting occurred before the Pistons announced Phil Jackson's (pro bono) advisory role. Maybe that changes things, maybe it doesn't. But Jackson's presence could lend the Pistons a bit of legitimacy they might otherwise lack given their quick trigger dumping previous hires. (To be fair, his presence could also raise a red flag that the front office has a muddled power structure. But let's think happy thoughts.)
Even if the Pistons and Budenholzer decide it's a mutual fit, I wouldn't expect the news to leak before the Spurs' playoff run is over. The Spurs will face the Golden State Warriors in the second round after sweeping the Lakers in the first.
Woj also reports that the Pistons will try to meet with Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson, as well. Even if it happens, I'm guessing nothing comes of it -- Vince Ellis has repeatedly poured water on Sampson's candidacy, so any meeting that does happen may just be a courtesy thing.