After one brief year of Igor Kokoskov at the Phoenix Suns' helm, the Suns let him go and have now hired his new replacement: Monty Williams, current assistant coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Suns have given Williams a 5-year deal, hopefully insuring long-term stability for the team. Williams played in the league for nine seasons, playing for Orlando, San Antonio, New York, Philadelphia and Denver before beginning his coaching career. He was an assistant coach in Portland for five years before becoming New Orleans' head coach for five seasons, leading them to the playoffs twice under players such as Chris Paul and Anthony Davis. He worked with Team USA and then became an assistant coach in Oklahoma City before tragedy struck, as his wife was killed in a car crash in OKC. This led to his departure from the league for two years, and he came back to basketball this season by joining Brett Brown on the Philadelphia 76ers' coaching staff.
I was originally very displeased with the firing of Igor Kokoskov, but the Suns picked the perfect replacement for him in Monty Williams. Williams is one of the most praised and respected individuals in basketball for not only what he's had to endure in his life, but also because of his extremely high basketball IQ and willingness to learn from other coaches and players. He's someone who is going to shift the culture of a locker room single-handedly, which is exactly what Phoenix needs with a team full of young players. He also has previous head coach experience with the Pelicans, which is something that the Suns have lacked at this position since they hired Alvin Gentry over 10 years ago. James Jones has done an excellent job as of late with the Suns and he definitely deserves a lot of credit for persuading Williams to stay away from the Lakers' fiasco and jump ship with Phoenix.
One player who should be specifically happy about this signing is Deandre Ayton, the 2018 number one overall selection. Williams has had a reputation for developing big men and making them a priority on every team that he has been a part of; some examples are listed below:
Portland: LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden (put up good numbers, couldn't stay healthy)
New Orleans: Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson
Oklahoma City: Steven Adams, Enes Kanter
Philadelphia: Joel Embiid
From these 7 names alone, 3 of them (Aldridge, Davis, Embiid) are future hall of famers or generational talents, and the remaining players are or were above average with development from Monty Williams. Ayton had a pretty good rookie season last year, averaging about 16 points and 10 rebounds a game, but with Williams' guidance, he could easily take a step forward in the 2019-20 season.
Overall, this was the perfect signing for the Suns. Kokoskov did a good job at developing some players last season, but it's time for the Suns to start winning. Having both a former player and coach with winning experience should have a big effect on these young Suns, who clearly want to win and be competitive once again in this league. We've seen this team have incredible wins in 2018-19, and with the right coach there could be a lot more coming their way. It seems like the Suns are committed to a trio of Jeff Bower (VP of Basketball Operations), Williams, and James Jones, but only time will tell if these three will stay together for the long run. The Suns may have had an early start to the off-season, but they are already winning and nailed the head coach signing in Monty Williams.