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Gambo: Monty Williams wasn’t “wasn’t in on Jae and Deandre”

Suns insider and Arizona Sports 98.7FM talk show host John Gambadoro pulled back some of the Suns’ curtain on a recent podcast.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Drama, am I right? People flock to it. Rubberneckers are clogging our freeways while the nightly news leads with the local tragedy.

The Phoenix Suns are not immune to drama. Like a co-worker leaving your place of work, all of the dirt starts coming out two weeks after they’re gone. “Jason was cool, but he never labeled his lunch in the fridge.” “I liked Steve, except for his breath! And he was a close-talker, too!”. “We all loved Lou, but I know he was a chronic crop duster!”.

Phoenix dismissed head coach Monty Williams over a month ago, and now the inner workings of the team are hitting the podcast waves.

Williams did amazing incredible things in Phoenix. He reset the culture, provided much-needed quality leadership, and gave us plenty of Monty-isms. But he had his faults as well. His lack of adjustments in the playoffs led to two consecutive second round exits over the past two seasons. He was loyal to a fault, it appeared, to certain players.

With the window for the Devin Booker and Kevin Durant era currently open, Phoenix brass wanted more. Some of the traits displayed by Monty Williams did not jive with the vision of new Suns owner, Mat Ishbia. Therefore, the team moved on from Monty and replaced him with Frank Vogel.

End of story. Right? Never.

Suns insider and Arizona Sports 98.7FM talk show host John Gambadoro pulled back some of the curtain and shared his knowledge of the inner-mechanics of the organization on the HoopsHype Podcast with Michael Scotto on Monday.

Topics ranged from the Bradley Beal acquisition to Chris Paul, how Cameron Payne fits into the equation to the potential return of Josh Okogie, Jock Landale, and Torrey Craig. It’s a must-listen if you are a Suns fan.

On the Beal Deal, Gambo stated the following:

I think the problem was if you waited until after July 1, the trade rules change drastically, so it reduces what can be included in a trade and a much different landscape from when Durant was traded.

Washington wanted off of Beal’s salary, and they wanted off of it badly. Beal misses a lot of games. He’s a terrific dynamic scorer and a three-time All-Star, but he misses a lot of games. Washington’s number one priority was to clear that salary. The fact that they weren’t able to get a quality return back as far as draft pick compensation and players is mind-boggling.

We knew the Suns’ fleeced the Washington Wizards in the deal, and this confirms why. The Wizards are tearing it down to the ground, dousing it in lighter fluid, and setting it aflame. The surely wanted a king’s ransom in draft picks to assist with their rebuild, but given the fact that Beal controlled his own destiny with a no-trade clause, there is only so much they could do.

As for the outgoing Chris Paul:

The Suns were going to waive Chris Paul. They weren’t going to keep Paul at $30M. It was either waive and stretch him to create $27M in salary for the cap or waive and re-sign him to the veteran’s minimum.

Kudos to the Suns for making this deal happen. Of the options available to them, they maximized the Chris Paul and Landry Shamet contracts and turned it into an All-Star caliber player.

Deandre Ayton continues to be the hottest of topics, especially with the Beal acquisition. His $32.5M contract, when stacked on top of Durant’s ($47.6M), Beal’s ($46.7M), and Booker’s ($36M), puts the Suns at $162.8M. With just those four contracts. The projected ominous second tax apron is $179M.

Knowing all of the math, what does that mean for Ayton? Do the Suns hold on to him and allow Vogel to attempt his defensive magic touch? Do you move on from Ayton in an effort to bring back two (or more) rotational pieces? Per Gambo:

I think the preference for Phoenix is to trade Deandre Ayton to get depth. Their top three are set with Booker, Durant and Beal. Their problem — and this is why they’re not better than the Denver Nuggets — is their four, five, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth guys. They don’t have depth. If you can trade Ayton and take that $30M salary and turn it into two or three good players, that’s the preference. You’ve got to find a team willing to take Ayton. He’s got over $100M left on his contract in the next three years, and he hasn’t been a dominant center. He’s not Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic. He’s a good player, and somebody who trades for him might get 22-24 points a night and 12 rebounds, but if he’s your second-best player, you’re probably not going to win.

We’re here for a little drama, right? Just a tad?

We’re here for a little drama, right? Just a tad?

Gambo spoke about Monty Williams and the postseason, confirming what many of us knew: that Monty has “his guys” and, to the determinant of the team at times, he sticks with them through thick and thin. That Monty wasn’t a Jae Crowder or DA guy.

The problem Monty Williams had in the playoffs was he had guys like Ross and Warren who were offensive-minded but weren’t good defensively. He had other guys like Okogie that were defensive-minded but not offensive-minded. Monty really couldn’t figure out who to play. He started Okogie with Durant in all eight games they played in the regular season. He gets to the playoffs, and he benches Okogie and plays Craig. Monty didn’t want to play Warren because he wanted to role with his guys. I had a player on the team tell me that Monty told TJ he was going to role with his guys in the playoffs. That’s why Ross and Warren weren’t playing a lot. The guys that Monty knew were playing.

The Jae Crowder situation was all on Monty. He told people he was too difficult to handle and coach. Monty didn’t want Jae. It wasn’t the Suns organization. He didn’t want Jae around. As far as Deandre Ayton, Monty didn’t want him either. He wanted them to trade him to Indiana for Myles Turner. He didn’t like coaching Ayton. When Ayton signed his maximum contract when the Suns matched his offer sheet, Monty wasn’t even there and didn’t show up when Ayton signed it at the arena or call him to say congratulations. Monty’s a good coach and a player’s coach, but he’s a player’s coach for the players he likes, but he wasn’t in on Jae and Deandre.

There’s the smoke.

The comments made by Gambo confirmed many of our suspicions relative to these two players. Jae Crowder, who many believe quit on the Suns, was allegedly quit on by his head coach. As was Ayton. I think of going to work and having your boss let you know that they don’t believe in you. “Quiet quitting” comes to mind.

If you asked me one week ago if I thought it’d be a good idea to pursue Jae Crowder, who is an unrestricted free agent, in free agency, I would’ve passed on the chance. My perception of events was much like the majority of yours. That is was the contract and the starting gig he was looking for.

How quickly a little rumor changes an opinion, right?

Given the state of the roster, however, Crowder is exactly what Phoenix needs. A corner-three specialist with some attitude. A physical presence. Someone who moves the needle and gives the team an edge. Given his history with the team, coupled with what he may garner on the open market, he may pass on Phoenix.

I’m guessing that if the Suns move on from Ayton, it won’t be to Detroit.

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