Suns Bear coach Monty Williams exits in semifinals, according to sources: What went wrong in Phoenix?

The Suns are parting ways with coach Monty Williams after four seasons, league sources said Athletic on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Suns fell to the Nuggets in six games in the Western Conference Semifinals, losing Game 6 in a 25-point blowout.
  • Phoenix made the 2021 NBA Finals following a season in which Williams led the team to a 17-win streak.
  • The Suns went 194-115 in the regular season and 27-19 in the postseason under Williams.

AthleticInstant Analysis:

What went wrong?

The Suns are not going to win the title this season. Their bench is inadequate and their defense is questionable. Their health suffered. After all, they needed more time to develop chemistry with Kevin Durant. Still, none of that excused their Game 6 collapse, where they fell in the elimination game for the second year in a row.

Williams has done great things in Phoenix, snapping the Suns out of a 10-year playoff drought and leading them to the 2021 NBA Finals. But Phoenix’s recent postseason woes fall on him. The Suns were good enough to win the title in 2022, but lost to Luka Doncic and Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.

This season, Williams had his starting five and rotation eight games before the playoffs. Then once he settled into something, he changed it in Game 1 of the first round. He played Durant and Devin Booker for several minutes. His rotation changed from game to game. Williams arrived in the desert just in time. He is what the organization needs. But sometimes, to reach higher ground, a new voice and direction is needed. — Haller

How Matt Ishbia’s tenure marks change

Mat Ishbia went from being a pawnbroker to a billionaire in the mortgage business. He calls it “being in the weeds.” This is his process, his path to success. He doesn’t know any other way. As a first-year NBA franchise, it’s no surprise he’s making changes. Upon introduction, Ishbia said she would take her time and observe.

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But his close friend and former NBA coach and executive, Isiah Thomas, has been by his side throughout the playoffs and the basketball games are in the ratings. Durant was traded to help Phoenix win its first championship. It’s a bold move that comes with an expiration date. Although Booker is young, only 26 years old, Durant turns 35 in September. The Suns’ championship window won’t be open for much longer. Ishbia did not wait. — Haller

Backstory

A first-round pick of New York in 1994, Williams began coaching with the Spurs in the 2004–05 season after a nine-year playing career.

His first head coaching role came with New Orleans in 2010, leading to two playoff appearances in five seasons before he was fired.

He was hired by the Suns in 2019 on a five-year contract as Phoenix was coming off a 19-win season. In less than three years he led the Suns to a 64-win season as a franchise.

The Suns had championship aspirations after dealing Durant at the trade deadline. Phoenix also ended its 2021-22 season with a similar loss to the Mavericks in the semifinals.

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(Photo: Mark J. Repilas / USA Today)

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