Phoenix Suns unexpectedly fire head coach Monty Williams
When an aggressive new owner takes control of a franchise, nobody is safe.
In an unexpected move reportedly driven by ownership, the Phoenix Suns have fired head coach Monty Williams — the man who coached this team to the 2021 NBA Finals and was the 2022 coach of the Year — something first reported by both Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and later confirmed by the team.
This comes after new owner Mat Ishbia and the Suns made an aggressive move at the trade deadline to bring in Kevin Durant to pair with Devin Booker. While that trade gave the Phoenix one of the top duos in the NBA, it also gutted the roster’s depth, something evident in the team’s second-round loss to the Nuggets. While that was an earlier-than-expected exit — and consecutive season of blowout exits — it was not on Williams, who tried almost everything but could only do so much with a limited roster.
If Booker or Durant stuck up for Williams, he would still be the coach. Williams had his clashes with center Deandre Ayton and that was one reason — along with limited tools for roster building — that the former No.1 pick center is expected to be traded this offseason.
Williams helped turn the Suns from a 19-win laughing stock to one of the best teams in the West. He signed an extension in the last year and reportedly has at least three years, $21 million on his contract and that could be more like four years and more than $30 million.
The big question for the Suns: Who are they getting that’s better?
There are three coaches available who have won a ring in the last four years — former Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, former Raptors coach Nick Nurse and former Lakers coach Frank Vogel — but Marc Stein reports that the Suns have their eye on still-employed Clippers coach Tyronn Lue.
Lue said he intended to be back with Los Angeles next season, just after the Clippers were eliminated by the Suns (Los Angeles played hard despite Paul George missing the entire series and Kawhi Leonard only playing in two games). Lue’s frustration with the constantly shifting roster with the Clippers was evident, but he is still under contract with them and Phoenix would have to give up a lot to get him (if Lue even wants the job).
The Suns are expected to shake up the roster and the front office this summer (they fired two scouts and an assistant coach before this move). They are all in on winning with Durant and Booker, but have a long way to go to get there.
And that now includes finding a new coach.
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Phoenix Suns unexpectedly fire head coach Monty Williams originally appeared on NBCSports.com