Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer arrested, pleads not guilty to DUI charges

Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with driving under the influence, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Budenholzer has pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to his attorney.

From the AJC's report:

A trooper stopped Budenholzer for having no tail lights, according to the State Patrol. The trooper detected an odor of alcohol, administered a field sobriety test, then placed Budenholzer under arrest.

Budenholzer refused a breath test, a State Patrol spokesman said.

A spokesman for the Atlanta City Jail told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Budenholzer [...] was charged with DUI and a tail light violation, and was released on $1,524 bond at 3:45 a.m. Thursday.

MyFoxAtlanta.com reports that Budenholzer is facing six charges stemming from the arrest, including driving while "under the influence of any drug (prescription)" and driving under the influence of "multiple substances," which sure doesn't sound good. UPDATE: An hour after its initial report, MyFoxAtlanta.com removed the references to drugs and multiple substances from its story. The arrest report obtained by the AJC lists two charges: one count of driving under the influence and one count of a taillight violation.

Shortly after 9 a.m. ET, the Hawks offered a brief statement: "Bud made us aware of the situation last night. We are in the process of gathering more information and will have further comment at the appropriate time."

Two hours later, Budenholzer's attorney, Michael Hawkins, issued a more expansive response:

Last night, Atlanta Hawks head basketball coach Michael Budenholzer was stopped by a Georgia State Patrol DUI Task Force officer for a broken taillight. He was stopped solely for an equipment violation and committed no traffic offenses. The trooper demanded that he submit to a breathalyzer, and when Coach Budenholzer asked to consult with an attorney first, he was immediately arrested and charged with DUI.

While at the jail, after consulting with an attorney by telephone, he immediately volunteered to take both a breathalyzer and also requested that a blood alcohol test be performed. His request for testing was refused. Immediately upon his release on bond, Coach Budenholzer went directly to Piedmont Hospital where his blood was tested at the earliest opportunity, albeit several hours after his arrest. The official report from the hospital blood test revealed that his blood alcohol concentration was less than .01, well below the legal limit of .08.

Coach Budenholzer has no prior criminal record and entered a plea of Not Guilty to all charges this morning in the Atlanta Municipal Court.

“I take my role as a leader very seriously and hold myself to a high standard. I apologize to the fans and to the Hawks organization for any negative attention this incident has brought upon my family and the organization while the legal process evolves and I contest these misdemeanor charges,” said Coach Budenholzer.

In his arrest report, Trooper Johnathan Nelms wrote that Budenholzer "had bloodshot and watery eyes and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath" after the stop, and that Budenholzer said "he had one glass of wine to drink prior to driving [at] around 9:15 or 9:30 pm and that he finished drinking about 15 minutes before" the stop.

Budenholzer, 44, spent the last 19 years with the San Antonio Spurs, starting as a video coordinator before moving to the bench and developing a reputation as one of the NBA's top assistant coaches, eventually rising to become head coach Gregg Popovich's chief lieutenant. He "could ultimately have been [Pop's] successor" in San Antonio had he stuck around, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, but after the Spurs swept the Memphis Grizzlies in May's Western Conference finals, Hawks general manager Danny Ferry — who knew Budenholzer well from his days as both a player and basketball operations executive with the Spurs — hired him to replace outgoing Atlanta head coach Larry Drew.

Budenholzer's pedigree and reputation have given Hawks fans some reason to be excited as the team simultaneously pares its long-term salary commitments, retains core pieces like forward/center Al Horford and point guard Jeff Teague, and adds exciting young talent like 2013 draft picks Dennis Schröder and Lucas Nogueira. But this, obviously, is not the brightest beginning to his tenure as an NBA head coach or the smoothest start to the new era of Hawks basketball.

That start was initially supposed to come on Oct. 30 against the Dallas Mavericks, but that date might now be pushed back a bit. NBA precedent suggests that Budenholzer — like new Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd — could face a suspension related to the DUI charges, as Nate Taylor of the New York Times wrote in discussing Kidd's plea agreement back in July:

In 2007, Sacramento Kings Coach Eric Musselman was barred for two games after pleading no contest to driving under the influence. Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers’ owner, was also suspended for two games — and barred from attending his team’s games — after being found guilty of a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge in 2007.

As a member of the Miami Heat, Dorell Wright was suspended two games in 2010 for a similar offense, as was Jason Richardson in 2009 when he was with the Detroit Pistons. There are other examples as well.

Depending on the disposition of Budenholzer's case, there might be one more.