ESPN’s Wojnarowski: Suns hire of Monty Williams surprised Lakers

May 6, 2019, 2:41 PM | Updated: 2:55 pm
Assistant coach Monty Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the Brooklyn Nets in Game...
Assistant coach Monty Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the Brooklyn Nets in Game Two of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on April 15, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Already, the Phoenix Suns earned two wins by hiring head coach Monty Williams.

From a PR perspective, they got the man they reportedly targeted as their top choice to replace Igor Kokoskov. And within the ecosystem of the NBA offseason coaching carousel they did so in short time and beat out one of the largest players, the Los Angeles Lakers, for Williams’ services.

The Lakers job was never reported to have been offered to Williams, but he did interview twice. As the Suns went into their second interview of Williams last Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that both Williams and Ty Lue had impressed Lakers brass.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Los Angeles appeared quite close to offering Williams the chance to coach All-Star LeBron James. On The Woj Pod, Wojnarowski said that James did not tell Lakers management that he would prefer Lue, his former coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers, over Williams.

“He didn’t tell the Lakers you have to [hire Lue] because they were ready to move toward Monty Williams,” Wojnarowski said, “and I think the Lakers … never really took seriously the possibility he was going to take the Suns job and he did and I think — I know it surprised them.”

While Williams may not have been posed with the direct choice of picking the Suns over the Lakers, his quick acceptance of the Phoenix offer indicated just how poorly Los Angeles is being perceived as a franchise.

The unforeseen end-of-season departure of president of basketball operations Magic Johnson left the team without a lead voice, let alone one with a basketball resume leading the hiring process. now, owner Jeanie Buss and former agent Rob Pelinka are attempt to settle things down.

That dysfunction, one can imagine, played a huge role in Williams committing to the Suns once an offer was on the table.

“I think that’s the right choice. LeBron James has three, four years left in his career,” said former All-Star Tracy McGrady on ESPN’s The Jump. “This is a great core group … these guys are only getting better. Devin Booker is going into his prime. I think he’ll do wonders for those young core guys.”

McGrady’s ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst agrees.

While overlooking a concerning past history for the Suns under owner Robert Sarver, who has fired three permanent head coaches and one GM in the past five years, Phoenix’s roster brings appeal.

“I’m very excited about Booker and Ayton,” Windhorst told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “Just looking at what you have, young stars in-house, good pick coming, market that you can get free agents in … there’s a lot of boxes to check where this is good job, good job, good job, good job.

“I think it’s a better job than the Lakers job,” Windhorst added. “Now if the Lakers get the No. 2 pick in the lottery and trade for Anthony Davis on June 15, then it’s a different conversation. But today, in the vacuum that we’re in right now, I feel like the Suns job was the better job, and that’s probably why Monty Williams was glad to take it when it was offered.”

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ESPN’s Wojnarowski: Suns hire of Monty Williams surprised Lakers