Adrian VojnarowskiSenior NBA insider3 minutes to read
On the heels of a blowout elimination loss in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Sources told ESPN that the Phoenix Suns fired head coach Monty Williams on Saturday night.
New Suns owner Matt Ichpeia made the decision to fire Williams, who won the NBA Coach of the Year award and reached the NBA Finals in his four seasons with the team. Williams helped revive the franchise from one of the laughing stock of the league to the most profitable team in the NBA over the past three seasons.
Ishbia has taken full control of the franchise’s basketball operations, including negotiations for the February deal with Kevin Durant and the now-firing of Williams. Sources said Suns general manager James Jones called Williams on Saturday night with the news.
Sources said Ishbia never warmed to Williams as his coach and quickly decided after losing Thursday night to the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the conference semifinals that he was going to fire him.
The Suns played without two starters – guard Chris Paul and center Deandre Ayton – in the 125-100 elimination loss. The Suns were also blown out in the last game of their season in 2022, with a 123-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Conference Semifinals.
Williams took charge of Thursday’s loss to Denver.
“I take it personally, not having our team ready to play in the biggest game of the year,” Williams said. “This is something I’m proud of that hasn’t happened… This is something I have to take a deep look at, everything I do.”
Sources said there was no clear candidate to replace Williams.
Sources told ESPN that Williams had three years and more than $20 million left on his contract. Sources said he is expected to become a top candidate in coaching searches elsewhere in the league, particularly the Toronto Raptors.
The Suns will join a coaching market that includes the Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons. Their searches for the Raptors and Bucks are wide open, sources said, and Detroit has narrowed its search to three finalists — Kevin Ollie, Milwaukee assistant manager Charles Lee and New Orleans Pelicans assistant Jaron Collins.
The Suns have two stars – Devin Booker and Durant – under contract but are challenged with a huge payroll that could limit their ability to add quality depth under the rules in the new collective bargaining agreement. Ishbia traded four future unprotected first-round draft picks and a selective trade with Michal Bridges and Cameron Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets in February, a move that limited Phoenix’s flexibility in team building.
Williams was 194-115 (0.628) in the regular season and 27-19 in the playoffs for the Phoenix team. The Suns won a franchise record 64 games in 2021-22 and reached the NBA Finals in 2021.
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