Adrian WojnarowskiVeteran NBA Insider3 minutes of reading
After a blowout elimination loss in the Western Conference semifinals, the The Phoenix Suns fired coach Monty Williams on Saturday night, sources told ESPN.
New Suns owner Matt Ishbia decided to fire Williams, who won the NBA Coach of the Year Award and reached the NBA Finals in four seasons with the team. Williams has helped restore the franchise from one of the league’s laughingstocks to the winningest team in the NBA over the past three seasons.
Ishbia has completely taken over the franchise’s basketball operations, including negotiating the February trade for Kevin Durant and now the ouster of Williams. Suns general manager James Jones called Williams on Saturday night to break the news to him, sources said.
Ishbia never warmed to Williams as his coach and quickly decided to fire him after Thursday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, sources said.
The Suns were without two starters — guard Chris Paul and center Deandre Ayton — in the 125-100 elimination loss. The Suns fell in their last game of the season in 2022, a 123–90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the conference semifinals.
Sources said there was no clear front-runner to replace Williams.
Williams has three years and more than $20 million remaining on his contract, sources told ESPN. He is expected to become a top candidate in the league, particularly in the Toronto Raptors’ coaching search, sources said.
The Suns will join a coaching market that includes the Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons. The Raptors and Bucks searches are wide open, and Detroit has narrowed its search to three finalists — Kevin Ollie, Milwaukee associate head coach Charles Lee and New Orleans Pelicans assistant Jaron Collins — sources said.
The Suns have two stars under contract — Devin Booker and Durant — but are challenged with a large payroll that could limit their ability to add quality depth under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement. Ishbia traded four future unprotected first-round picks and Michael Bridges and Cameron Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets in a big swap in February, limiting Phoenix’s flexibility in team building.
Williams is 194-115 (.628) in the regular season and 27-19 in the playoffs for Phoenix. The Suns won 64 games in 2021–22 and reached the NBA Finals in 2021.