The Suns‘ hiring of Sixers assistant Monty Williams was well-received around the NBA this week, Gina Mizell details in a story for The Athletic.
Williams, who last served as a head coach with the Pelicans in 2015, is one of the most respected figures across the league. Aside from his basketball intellect, Williams demonstrated incredible courage, faith and strength when his wife of 26 years tragically passed away in a car accident two years ago.
The mark he left on many NBA figures, including players, coaches and executives, cannot be measured. It’s this kind of culture that piqued the interests of Suns GM James Jones and owner Robert Sarver, who pitched Williams on starting a new program and improving the culture of the team.
“They need him. They really need him there,” said Anthony Morrow, who played under Williams for two seasons. “He really likes the grind of building up the organization and building the culture.
“That’s the mentality that he’s gonna put in these guys’ heads. I think it’s gonna be special to watch after a while.”
Perhaps nobody was impacted more by Williams than consensus top-three player Kevin Durant, who lauded Williams’ courage and positive attitude shortly after news broke of him joining the Suns.
“I got to know the type of man he was. His coaching style is what it is because of the stuff he’s been through as a person and how he looks at life in general,” Durant said, as relayed by Mark Medina of The Mercury News. “He’s a leader and a teacher. I’m excited he’s back into coaching and walking those sidelines again.”
There’s more out of Phoenix today:
- The Williams hiring will work best if team owner Robert Sarver keeps his distance, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic writes. The Suns’ win totals have steadily declined in the past five seasons under Sarver, going from 48 in 2014 to 19 this year. Sarver promised Williams that he would stand clear and allow him to develop his younger players in their meeting with Suns GM James Jones, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
- Phoenix spoke with several more coaching candidates than what was originally reported, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 tweets. The Suns, according to Gambadoro, spoke with roughly 10 other potential coaches before choosing to hire Williams.
- Plans have officially been announced for the team’s new state-of-the-art practice facility, set to be built as part of a $230MM renovation deal for Talking Stick Resort Arena, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “There are extensive limitations to the player development and training space available in our nearly 30 year old arena,” James Jones said in a press release. “The development of this stand-alone, secure and private facility will enhance our player health, development and wellness capabilities, and allow us to retain and attract the best basketball talent to the Valley for years to come.”