The Suns have parted ways with coach Monty Williams after four seasons, league sources said The Athletic on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:
- The Suns fell to the Nuggets in six games in the Western Conference semifinals, losing Game 6 in a 25-point blowout.
- Phoenix made the 2021 NBA Finals following a season in which Williams guided the team to a 17-win improvement.
- The Suns went 194-115 in the regular season and 27-19 in the postseason under Williams.
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What went wrong?
The Suns won’t win a title this season. Their bench is inadequate and their defense is suspect. Their health is ruined. More importantly, they need more time to develop chemistry with Kevin Durant. However, none of that was the reason for their Game 6 loss, the second year in a row they were blown out at home in an elimination game.
Williams has done great things in Phoenix, leading the Suns out of a 10-year playoff drought and guiding them to the 2021 NBA Finals. But Phoenix’s recent postseason shortcomings are catching up with him. The Suns were good enough to win a title in 2022 but lost to Luka Dončić and Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.
This season, Williams has eight games to work out his starting five and rotation before the playoffs. And then when he gets something right, he changes it in Game 1 of the first round. He played Durant and Devin Booker a lot of minutes. His rotation changed from game to game. Williams arrived at the right time in the desert. He is exactly what the organization needs. But sometimes, to reach a higher level, a new voice and direction is needed. — Haller
How Mat Ishbia’s tenure signaled change
Mat Ishbia became a billionaire in the mortgage business by being a hands-on leader. He calls it “being in the weeds.” This is his process, his path to success. He knows no other way. As a first-year NBA owner, it should come as no surprise that he’s making changes. Introducing, Ishbia says she will take her time and observe.
But having close friend and former NBA coach and executive Isiah Thomas by his side throughout the playoffs suggests basketball ops are under scrutiny. The Durant trade was made to help Phoenix get its first championship. It’s a bold move, one that comes with an expiration date. While Booker remains young, only 26, Durant will be 35 in September. The Suns’ championship window won’t be open for long. Ishbia does not wait. — Haller
A 1994 first-round pick by New York, Williams began coaching in the 2004-05 season as an intern with the Spurs after a nine-year playing career.
His first head-coaching role came in 2010 with New Orleans, leading to two playoff appearances in five seasons before he was fired.
He was hired by the Suns in 2019 on a five-year deal as Phoenix was coming off a 19-win season. In three years, he led the Suns to a franchise-record 64-win season.
The Suns have championship aspirations heading into the postseason after making a deal for Durant at the trade deadline. Phoenix also saw its 2021-22 season end in the semifinals with a similar blowout loss to the Mavericks.
(Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)