Monty Williams, the coach who led the Phoenix Suns to their third NBA Finals appearance, was fired from his position just two days after a painful playoff exit.
Despite the high-profile signing of Kevin Durant, the Suns fell in the Western Conference semifinals to the Denver Nuggets, losing the series 4-2 and suffering a crushing 125-100 loss in their final home game last Thursday.
The year before, the Suns were also eliminated in the same round by the Dallas Mavericks, another embarrassing loss on their home court.
These two consecutive failures led new Suns owner Mat Ishbia to lose patience with the performance of Williams, who was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2021.
Last February, shortly after acquiring the franchise, Ishbia made a big gamble to compete for this season’s championship by signing veteran Durant, for whom he handed the Brooklyn Nets a large package of players and draft picks.
“We are grateful for all that Monty has brought to the Suns and the community,” James Jones, president of sports operations, wrote in a brief message on the team’s Twitter account.
Williams’ departure was reported hours earlier by digital media outlets The Athletic and ESPN.
“Mat Ishbia and James Jones have begun an aggressive postseason focused exclusively on winning a championship,” noted The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
According to Charania, Phoenix management believes that despite a lack of roster depth and salary flexibility, the presence of Durant and point guard Devin Booker makes the Suns the best destination for available coaches, beating out other top teams that also have coaching positions available, such as the Bucks or Raptors.
Williams, 51, joined the Suns in 2020 and, in just one season, led them to the NBA Finals, where they were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks.
The coach, who previously coached the New Orleans Pelicans, amassed a record of 194 wins and 115 losses in his four years in Phoenix.
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