In the aftermath of a blowout elimination loss in the Western Conference semifinals, the Phoenix Suns fired coach Monty Williams on Saturday night, sources told ESPN.
New Suns owner Mat Ishbia made the decision to dismiss Williams, who won an NBA Coach of the Year award and reached the NBA Finals in his four seasons with the team. Williams helped resurrect the franchise from one of the league’s laughingstocks into the winningest team in the NBA over the past three seasons.
Ishbia has fully taken over the franchise’s basketball operations, including the negotiation of the February trade for Kevin Durant and now the dismissal of Williams. Suns GM James Jones called Williams on Saturday night and delivered the news to him, sources said.
Ishbia had never warmed to Williams as his coach, and decided quickly after Thursday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals that he would fire him, sources said.
The Suns played without two starters — guard Chris Paul and center Deandre Ayton — in the 125-100 elimination loss. The Suns also got blown out in the last game of their season in 2022, a 123-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the conference semifinals.
There is no clear frontrunner to replace Williams, sources said.
Williams had three years and $20M million-plus left on his contract, sources told ESPN. He’s expected to become a prominent candidate in coaching searches elsewhere in the league, especially the Toronto Raptors, sources said.
The Suns will join a coaching marketplace that includes Toronto, Milwaukee and Detroit. 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 assistant Jarron Collins, sources said.
The Suns have two stars — Devin Booker and Kevin Durant — under contract, but are challenged with a massive payroll that could limit their ability to add quality depth under the rules in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Ishbia traded four future unprotected first-round picks and a pick swap with Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets in February, a move that limits their flexibility in team building.
Williams was 194-115 (.628) in the regular season and 27-19 in the playoffs for Phoenix. The Suns won a franchise record 64 games in 2022-2023, and reached the NBA Finals in 2021.