DAN BICKLEY

Monty Williams will usher in new era of Phoenix Suns basketball

May 3, 2019, 6:27 PM | Updated: 10:24 pm
(AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)...
(AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
(AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)

Bad owners don’t change overnight. They don’t have guilt trips, epiphanies or competitive awakenings. Their only shot at redemption is lucking into a championship before it’s too late.

Will Robert Sarver be an exception?

After nine consecutive seasons without a playoff berth, his hiring of Monty Williams is one of the greatest harbingers we’ve had on Planet Orange in a long time. Williams is a head coach with actual experience. He’s endured unspeakable personal loss with unfathomable dignity. His elite reputation precedes him, and that’s a good thing in the NBA.

Williams will not let shenanigans slide. He won’t let young players take shortcuts or feign ignorance. He won’t be used as a speed bump. He’s already turned some heads, negotiating a five-year contract from Sarver, a commitment that gives real power to Williams’ voice.

But this isn’t about the latest head coach, a man who signed on after Sarver reportedly bared his soul in a Wednesday night meeting, owning to the follies of his past. That conversation might’ve lasted longer than the most recent Game of Thrones, with just as much carnage. But it was enough to convince Williams that a reviled, much-maligned owner is finally serious about stepping back in the name of progress.

Ryan McDonough heard some of the same things. Until he found goats in his office and wasn’t allowed to trade for a point guard.

So, we’ll see.

But this time feels different. While undoing much of McDonough’s work, Jones has clearly impressed Sarver. He has sold the owner on his ability to build a team and not just assemble a roster of talented pieces.

Jones has shown a deft touch in some areas and has seemed oblivious to others. He was given too much credit for acquiring in Kelly Oubre Jr. in the wake of a butchered three-team trade attempt. He wasn’t praised enough for showing up when Josh Jackson blew off a public appearance, buying beer for disgruntled fans.

Hiring Williams is the most promising acquisition yet. It proves that Jones can identify and reel in his No. 1 candidate. It proves he can talk a well-respected coaching candidate into working for Sarver, one of the most mentally-exhausting bosses in the NBA. It proves that the Suns owner believes in Jones enough to do things he’s never done before, notably sign off on a five-year contract to an experienced head coach, with the promise that he’ll recede further into the background.

Again. We’ll see.

The latter shouldn’t be a problem for a man as smart and successful as Sarver. But it is. It’s his competitive flaw and his blind spot. He needs to be the ultimate voice of authority and in control at all times, whether he’s trying to coach 7-footers in how to block out or advising medical professionals who certainly don’t need his advice.

The time is right for a new Sarver in Phoenix. He’s getting a refurbished arena and a new practice facility. Devin Booker is approaching the crossroads, and if the Suns don’t turn a competitive corner, it won’t be long before he wants out. Deandre Ayton badly needs a coach who can maximize his talents. The team could end up with the No. 1 pick draft. And the hiring of Williams opens a window into the free agency pursuit of Kevin Durant, a player who once again gushed over the Suns head coach on Friday.

Remember, Durant once listed us among his favorite NBA cities, saying “Phoenix is the one I love a lot. I like Phoenix (and the) Scottsdale area is dope.”

Chances are, he likes the Suns a lot better now that Williams is on board.

Same here. For reasons that extend well beyond the new head coach.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Penguin Air

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Dan Bickley

Head coach Kliff Kingbury of the Arizona Cardinals participants in a team training camp at State Fa...
Dan Bickley

Kliff Kingsbury biggest winner of Cardinals’ start to preseason

Dan Bickley writes that Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is the biggest winner out of the team's preseason win over the Bengals.
1 day ago
General manager Steve Keim (R) of the Arizona Cardinals talks with president Michael Bidwill before...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals’ stars need to justify lack of offseason spending on defense

The Cardinals are carrying some luggage, baggage and a lot of question marks into the 2022 season, but they have room in the overhead bins.
5 days ago
Kevin Durant attends "NYC Point Gods" premiere at Midnight Theatre on July 26, 2022 in New York Cit...
Dan Bickley

Kevin Durant’s exit could get messy for Nets, maybe Suns, too

By my calculations, there is only one way Durant lands in Phoenix. There must be a second act of petulance even worse than the first.
7 days ago
Inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons #9 of the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at State Farm Stad...
Dan Bickley

Isaiah Simmons must become a playmaker for Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals' roster lacks high-end talent and that's why they need third-year linebacker Isaiah Simmons to break out this season.
14 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals sits on the bench during the second half against the Los A...
Dan Bickley

Kyler Murray’s study clause is embarrassing for Arizona Cardinals, QB

The contract for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray including a study clause is a bad look for the organization and its leader.
21 days ago
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray addresses the media, Friday, July 22, 2022, in Tempe, Ar...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals, QB Kyler Murray embark on Act II of marriage

Training camp is upon us. Kyler Murray is under contract through 2028. It's now Act II in the life of our franchise quarterback. All aboard.  
23 days ago
Monty Williams will usher in new era of Phoenix Suns basketball