In the late hours of April 22nd, the Suns fired its first year head coach Igor Kokoskov after his first season with the team. Less than two weeks later, the Suns hired Monty Williams to a five year deal, securing the team’s top choice for the job.
Many people (myself included) thought getting Williams would be out of the question for several reasons. With the Lakers chasing him and the chaos that has reigned in Phoenix, Williams seemed like a pipe dream and the Suns would end up hiring another unproven assistant coach for the job. But that dream became a reality for the Suns and definitely a good sign for the organization.
Currently an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Sixers, Williams has experience being a head coach, running the New Orleans Pelicans from 2010-15. This experience is something the Suns have been lacking for years as since Alvin Gentry, the Suns haven’t gotten an experienced head coach on the sideline.
Williams knows how to run a team, he knows how to get the best out of his young players and he probably has the respect of those young guys already. He helped groom Anthony Davis into the top guy he is and lead the Pelicans to the playoffs his final season there. In a statement, general manager James Jones said that he’s thrilled to welcome Williams to the team.
“Monty brings a wealth of NBA experience, both as a coach and former player,” James said. “In addition to being a high-character individual who will infuse basketball wisdom and life lessons into our locker room. Monty is well respected for his coaching pedigree, leadership and commitment to the community, all of which make him the ideal person to lead our team moving forward.”
As great as it is for Jones to have faith in his guy, it seems like someone else has a lot of faith in Williams too, Suns owner Robert Sarver. According to Shams Charania, when Williams sat down with Sarver and Jones on Wednesday night, “Sarver started to admit to some of the past mistakes of his franchise, what has ailed this franchise from really having stability over the last several years.”
He reportedly provided Williams with his vision on why he’s going to believe in Jones and Williams in the future. This reportedly was “refreshing” for Williams and helped him become “more sure” in taking the job.
Sarver admitting to his mistakes and putting his faith in his executives and coaches is very refreshing for Suns fans to hear. For years, we’ve heard the media, coaches and executives talk about how involved Sarver is with the Suns and the results haven’t been pretty.
In my last story, I wrote that the Suns were a mess because Sarver’s willingness to let go of coaches and executives quickly. Those decisions had left the Suns haunted by their past failures and would cast a shadow over Phoenix. Sarver had clearly thought over his role with the team and seems to be willing to take a backseat for these two men. If that isn’t a sign of progress, I don’t know what is.
With Jones, Williams and Senior VP of Basketball Operations Jeff Bower, the Suns have three guys that are very well respected in the NBA world and have a lot of experience in it.
Warriors star Kevin Durant, who knew Williams when he was an assistant coach with the Thunder, spoke highly of him today, saying “their whole organization got a great leader to take them to the next level.”
Kevin Durant on the Monty Williams hiring in Phoenix pic.twitter.com/zL3hlVEY3C— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 3, 2019
Jones has the trust and respect of players and executives across the league and most importantly, he has Sarver’s trust. Sarver has backed Jones a lot and we see that through the decision he’s made to keep him as the general manager of the team.
Now could this just be talk and the second things go south, Sarver comes down on Williams and Jones? Of course. But after giving Williams a five-year deal and removing the interim tag on Jones, Sarver seems willing to let them do their jobs and stand back.
With Williams and Jones, the Suns can change the culture and perception of themselves and turn the team around. It has the talent and the guys in charge to make this vision work and the future definitely looks brighter than it did April 22nd. Now comes the toughest part, making that a reality.