Suns announce Monty Williams as head coach

FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2016 file photo, then-Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams is seen in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Denver. Without his wife, it's a bittersweet Olympics for Williams. When Ingrid Williams died on Feb. 11 at age 44, it meant he would experience Rio alone. "So a little bittersweet, but at the same time we've had to manage that and move forward," Williams, US assistant coach, said in an interview with The Associated Press. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Monty Williams will be the new head coach in Phoenix. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

The Phoenix Suns hired Monty Williams, the Philadelphia 76ers’ assistant, as their new head coach Friday.

Williams returns to head coaching ranks

Williams, 47, was the New Orleans Pelicans head coach from 2010-15. He had a 173-221 (.439) record in his five years. The team made the playoffs in his first and final seasons.

He previously served as an assistant for five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. After his head coaching stint he was an assistant for a year with the Oklahoma City Thunder in ’15-16. He took time off after his wife’s death and returned to coaching with the 76ers under Brett Brown.

Philadelphia is up 2-1 in the East semifinals and will host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Williams will stay with the 76ers through the playoffs.

“I’m honored to become head coach of the Phoenix Suns and very grateful to Robert Sarver and James Jones for entrusting me with the opportunity,” Williams said in a statement. “I am also so thankful to the 76ers organization for their support throughout the process and remain committed to pursuing the goals we set out to achieve this season.

“I’ve been blessed to coach alongside and play for some of the best coaches in the NBA, and consider it a privilege to once again be a head coach with an excellent organization like the Suns. It is a tremendous opportunity with a talented group of players and a loyal fan base. I will be very excited to get to the valley, connect with our team and get to work.”

Williams was also in the conversation for the Los Angeles Lakers coaching position. The Lakers are now reportedly leaning toward a Tyronn Lue and LeBron James reunion.

Suns looking for return to playoffs

The Suns fired Igor Kokoskov after one season as head coach in which the team went 19-63. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2009-10, when they lost in the conference finals, and haven’t had a winning record since 2013-14.

Phoenix executives met with Williams in Philadelphia for a second interview Wednesday, per the Arizona Republic, but reportedly did not make an offer.

They also looked into hiring Portland Trail Blazers assistants David Vanterpool and Nate Tibbetts, per the Republic.

Williams will be the 20th head coach in the franchise’s history.

Said Suns general manager James Jones in a statement:

“I am thrilled to welcome Monty Williams to the Suns family as our next head coach. Monty brings a wealth of NBA experience, both as a coach and former player, in addition to being a high-character individual who will infuse basketball wisdom and life lessons into our locker room. Monty is well respected for his coaching pedigree, leadership and commitment to the community, all of which make him the ideal person to lead our team moving forward.”

The team will look to build around a young core of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

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