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Woj: Lakers wanted Monty Williams, were ‘surprised’ he accepted Suns job

Los Angeles was reportedly leaning toward offering Williams their head coaching position before Phoenix swooped in.

Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Three Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Even though many Lakers supporters don’t want you to believe this, Monty Williams preferred landing in Phoenix over Los Angeles. That sentiment seemed to be confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the latest episode of The Woj Pod.

When discussing with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin about how Williams landed with the Suns and what it means for the Lakers’ current coaching search, he let everyone know how LeBron James didn’t force Tyronn Lue upon ownership.

And here’s the biggest note, which was arguably a huge blunder: Los Angeles never took Phoenix’s threats to land Williams as their new head coach seriously. Wow.

“While LeBron, I do know he would prefer him (Lue) as head coach, I know this: He didn’t tell the Lakers ‘You have to do it’,” Wojnarowski said. “Because they were ready to move toward Monty Williams, and I think the Lakers never really took seriously the possibility he was going to take that Suns job, and he did, and I know it surprised them.”

Were the Lakers really that arrogant, and continue to remain so, off of name recognition alone? They thought just the glitz and glamor of Hollywood would land them Paul George to pair with LeBron. Nope.

Now, the Lakers’ front office was naive enough to believe Phoenix’s group led by Robert Sarver, James Jones and Jeff Bower wouldn’t be able to seal the deal. Preparing to move toward Williams as their primary option, Phoenix offered him the job less than 48 hours after their second interview.

Williams also interviewed twice with the Lakers, with the last meeting featuring owner Jeanie Buss, GM Rob Pelinka, COO Tim Harris and others. But, again, it’s pretty incredible how Los Angeles was that short-sighted. If Williams was the Lakers’ top target along, that’s another low blow to their already long laundry list since James’ arrival last July.

“I think Williams came in a little more circumspect,” Wojnarowski said. “He wanted to understand, with Phoenix and the Lakers, he wanted answers about ... where the power is, where the influence is, who’s really making decisions ... I think Monty looked it as just a little more, ‘I’m going to take the Lakers name off and say: What do I see here?’”

Outside of coaching one of the greatest players in NBA history, there really isn’t much to work with in Los Angeles. The Suns’ young core is more talented — Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges vs. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball — while also set up more for sustained success with the right growing environment. And as we’ve already witnessed countless times throughout LeBron’s career, coaches of his tend to usually not last long if immediate results aren’t seen.

Locked in on a 5-year deal, the longest ever during Sarver’s tenure, Phoenix might finally be stabilizing with Jones as the general manager and Williams as their experienced head coach.

It must make the feeling even sweeter to realize the Suns landed their rival’s top choice as well.

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