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The Phoenix Suns have decided to fire head coach Monty Williams after the team was eliminated in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs by the Denver Nuggets.
The Suns lost 125-100 in Game 6 at home on Thursday, which closed the series in Nuggets favor by 4-2. Right after the blowout loss, the Suns’ owner Mat Ishbia decided to fire Williams and had general manager James Jones call him and deliver the news.
The Suns, who eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening Playoff round, came into the Playoffs as the favorites to win the West. Still, it proved that the Denver Nuggets, who had the best regular season record in the conference, were just too good. Williams had many issues during the series as the Suns starting point guard Chris Paul suffered a hamstring injury in Game 2 and did not return for the rest of the series. Williams also could not count on the starting center Deandre Ayton for Game 6, which proved to be the last of the series and the last for Williams as the Phoenix Suns’ head coach.
Williams took responsibility for the loss.
“I take that personally, not having our team ready to play in the biggest game of the year,” Williams said. “That’s something that I pride myself on and it just didn’t happen. … That’s something I have to take a deep look at, everything I’m doing.”
Ishbia and Williams were not on best terms in recent years but Williams had the support of Jones who stated that “it was difficult for me to make this decision.”
Thank you, Monty.
“We are filled with gratitude for everything Monty has contributed to the Suns and to the Valley community.”
– President of Basketball Operations and General Manager James Jones pic.twitter.com/PMmZ6JkqAy
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) May 14, 2023
The Suns were one of the best teams in the conference in the last couple of years reaching the NBA Finals in 2021 where they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks despite having a 2-0 lead in the series. That season, Williams led the Suns to a franchise record of 64 wins in the regular season. Last season, the Suns were also blown out in the decisive Game 7 in the second round against the Dallas Mavericks.
The pressure on Williams grew when the team managed to land Kevin Durant in the middle of the season and Ishbia expected that to be enough to win the title since the Suns already had superstars like Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
Williams spent four seasons as Suns head coach and had a 194-115 (.628) regular season record and was 27-19 in the Playoffs. He won the Coach of the Year award in 2022 and the Suns were the winningest team in the league in the last three regular seasons combined under him. Williams had three more years and more than $20 million left on his contract with the Suns.
The Suns are now the fourth NBA team besides Toronto, Milwaukee and Detroit who are without a coach at the moment.
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