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Phoenix Suns hire Monty Williams as new head coach

Assistant coach Monty Williams and head coach Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers look on against the Brooklyn Nets in Game Five of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on April 23, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns on Friday hired Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams as their new head coach to replace the fired Igor Kokoskov.

The deal is for five years, confirmed 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added that Williams will remain with the Sixers until their playoff run comes to an end.

“I am thrilled to welcome Monty Williams to the Suns family as our next head coach,” said Suns GM James Jones in a statement. “Monty brings a wealth of NBA experience, both as a coach and former player, in addition to being a high-character individual who will infuse basketball wisdom and life lessons into our locker room. Monty is well respected for his coaching pedigree, leadership and commitment to the community, all of which make him the ideal person to lead our team moving forward.”

The Los Angeles Lakers had also expressed interest in Williams, having interviewed him along with former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Ty Lue for the opening left in the wake of Luke Walton’s firing.

Williams has five years of head coaching experience with New Orleans. He went 173-221 (.439) from 2010-15, making the playoffs twice and losing in the first round both times.

While there, Williams worked under new Suns senior vice president of basketball operations Jeff Bower and was hired to replace Bower, who filled in as head coach in 2009-10.

Williams stepped away from coaching after the 2015-16 season when he was the associate head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He returned this past season as an assistant head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Prior, Williams was with the Blazers from 2005-10 as an assistant, wherein 2007-08 he coached Suns general manager James Jones.

Williams becomes the 20th Suns head coach in franchise history and the fifth in seven seasons.

“I’m honored to become head coach of the Phoenix Suns and very grateful to Robert Sarver and James Jones for entrusting me with the opportunity,” Williams said in a press release.

“I am also thankful to the 76ers organization for their support throughout the process and remain committed to pursuing the goals we set out to achieve this season.

“I’ve been blessed to coach alongside and play for some of the best coaches in the NBA, and consider it a privilege to once again be a head coach with an excellent organization like the Suns. It is a tremendous opportunity with a talented group of players and a loyal fan base. I will be very excited to get to the Valley, connect with our team and get to work.”

Jeff Hornacek started former general manager Ryan McDonough’s era in the 2013-14 season when the Suns won 48 games. From there, Hornacek lasted one-and-a-half seasons until he was fired after a 14-35 start in 2015.

Earl Watson took over the team in an interim role, going 9-24 and returned in a permanent role for the 2016-17 season despite the Suns not interviewing any other candidates.

The Suns went 24-58, and after Phoenix lost its first three games of the following season, Watson was fired and replaced by Jay Triano on an interim basis.

Triano interviewed with several others in the 2018 offseason before the Suns hired Kokoskov. McDonough was fired nine days before the Suns’ season started, along with half his staff, and the Suns replaced those positions internally with interim tags through the rest of the season.

Jones was promoted to general manager and Bower was brought in. Twelve days later, Jones fired Kokoskov.

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