Suns part ways with coach Monty Williams after four seasons, league sources say The Athletic Saturday. Here’s what you should know:
- The Suns lost six games in the Western Conference semifinals to the Nuggets, including a close 25-point loss in Game 6.
- Phoenix advanced to the 2021 NBA Finals after a season in which Williams led the team to 17 wins.
- Under Williams, the Suns went 194-115 in the regular season and 27-19 in the postseason.
The AthleticInstant analysis of:
what went wrong?
The Suns weren’t going to win the title this season. Their bench was inadequate and their defense questionable. Their health has crumbled. Most of all, he needed more time to develop chemistry with Kevin Durant. Still, there was no excuse for the crushing defeat in Game 6, and they were eliminated at home for the second year in a row.
Williams had a stellar run in Phoenix, helping the Suns out of a decade of playoff slump and leading them to the 2021 NBA Finals. But he’s to blame for Phoenix’s recent postseason shortcomings. The Suns were strong enough to clinch the title in 2022, but lost to Luka Doncic and Dallas in the Western Conference Semifinals.
This season, Williams spent eight games considering starting fives and rotations before the playoffs. And what was decided once was changed in the first match of the first round. He played Durant and Devin Booker too many times. His rotation changed from game to game. Williams came to the desert just in time. He was exactly what the organization needed. However, new opinions and directions may be required to reach higher levels. — Haller
How Matt Ishbia’s tenure signaled change
Matt Ishbia became a millionaire in the mortgage business as a hands-on leader. He calls it “being in the weeds.” It’s his process, his path to success. he doesn’t know any other way. As a first-year NBA owner, it’s no surprise that he makes a difference. During his introduction, Ishubia said he would take his time and observe.
But his close friend and former NBA coach and executive Isaiah Thomas was by his side throughout the playoffs, suggesting his basketball strategy was underrated. The Durant trade was made to help Phoenix win its first championship. It was a bold move with a time limit. Booker is still young at 26, while Durant turns 35 in September. The Suns’ championship road won’t be long open. Ishubia is not waiting. — Haller
A first-round pick from New York in 1994, Williams began coaching as an intern with the Spurs in the 2004-05 season after a nine-year career.
He took his first head coaching role at New Orleans in 2010, leading him to two playoff appearances in five seasons before being fired.
He was hired by the Suns in 2019 on a five-year deal as Phoenix neared the end of a 19-win season. Within three years, he led the Suns to a franchise-record 64 wins in a season.
The Suns had championship aspirations heading into the postseason after acquiring Durant by the trade deadline. Phoenix ended the 2021-22 season with a similar crushing loss to the Mavericks in the semifinals.
(Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)