Suns part ways with coach Monty Williams after four seasons, league sources say Athleticism SATURDAY. Here’s what you need to know:
- The Suns fell to the Nuggets in six games of the Western Conference Semifinals, losing Game 6 in a 25-point blowout.
- Phoenix made the 2021 NBA Finals after 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 playoffs under Williams.
AthleticismInstant analysis of:
What went wrong?
The Suns weren’t going to win a title this season. Their bench was insufficient and their defense suspect. Their health deteriorated. Above all, they needed more time to build chemistry with Kevin Durant. Even so, none of that excuses their collapse in Game 6, the second straight year they’ve been knocked out at home in a playoff game.
Williams has done great things in Phoenix, pulling the Suns out of a 10-year playoff drought and guiding them to the 2021 NBA Finals. But Phoenix’s recent playoff shortcomings are getting to 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 had eight games to establish his starting five and rotation heading into the playoffs. And then once he settled on something, he changed it in the first game of the first round. He played Durant and Devin Booker for too many minutes. His rotation changed from game to game. Williams arrived at the right time in the desert. He was exactly what the organization needed. But sometimes, to reach a higher level, a new voice and a new direction are necessary. — Haller
How Mat Ishbia’s tenure marked change
Mat Ishbia became a billionaire in the mortgage industry by being a hands-on leader. He calls it “being in the weeds”. It 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. During the introduction, Ishbia said he would take time and observe.
But having close friend and former NBA coach and executive Isiah Thomas by his side throughout the playoffs suggested basketball operations were being evaluated. The Durant trade was made to help Phoenix win its first championship. It was a bold decision, which comes with an expiration date. Although Booker remains young, just 26, Durant turns 35 in September. The Suns’ championship window won’t be open for long. Ishbia does not wait. — Haller
New York’s first-round pick in 1994, Williams began coaching in the 2004-05 season as a trainee with the Spurs after a nine-year playing career.
His first head coaching role came in 2010 with New Orleans, which he led to two playoff appearances in five seasons before being fired.
He was hired by the Suns in 2019 on a five-year contract as Phoenix was coming off a 19-win season. In three years, he led the Suns to a season-record 64 wins.
The Suns had championship aspirations entering the playoffs after trading for Durant at the trade deadline. Phoenix also saw its 2021-22 season end in the semifinals with a similar loss to the Mavericks.
(Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today)