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Suns’ Monty Williams recalls his decision to head to the Valley

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams smiles as he answers a question about the re-signing of Kelly Oubre Jr. with the Suns NBA basketball team during a news conference Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Last April, former Philadelphia 76ers assistant and current Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams was preparing to face the Toronto Raptors in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. At the same time, he was facing lots of inquiries about his future.

As teams like the Suns and Los Angeles Lakers were in the market for a new head coach, Williams was a hot commodity. He did his best to tune out the noise and focus at the task at hand, but that was difficult with such a major life decision around the corner.

The new head man of Phoenix joined 98.7 Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo on Wednesday and discussed that balancing act.

“I wasn’t looking for jobs because I was so locked in to the playoffs,” Williams said. “Philadelphia was telling me to do my thing, but I told (head) coach Brett (Brown) we had to focus on Toronto. When my agent was talking to James (Jones), the Suns felt the same way.

“I was aware of it all but my focus was on the playoffs. At the same time, when you have a family and you want to be in this position again, you have to juggle. It was a strange time.”

Once Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard ended the 76ers’ season with one shot in Game 7, Williams’ attention went toward becoming a head coach again. He was previously in that role for the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans from 2010-2015, followed by becoming an assistant coach for a couple of playoff teams and Team USA during the 2016 Olympics.

During his interviews with Jones and Suns’ owner Robert Sarver, there was intense questioning from both sides. According to Williams, that led both parties believing in each other more and understanding what is at stake.

The Suns have been in the league’s basement for several years now which has led to them collecting a talented young core of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Kelly Oubre Jr.

If Phoenix does not come up with a way to develop into a playoff contender with this group, then Phoenix’s nine-year postseason drought could contend for the longest in NBA history (15).

“We both know that we can’t mess this up,” Williams said. “We have the chance to do something special and this is our shot. We (Williams and the Suns) have something in common and that’s having the chance to make this right.”

There were several factors that led to Williams’ decision to select Phoenix, but bringing the Suns back to prominence was a driving force. He recalls what it was like when the Suns were great, and he said there was nothing like it.

“I remember when this team was rolling, and when that happens there is no better place to play than Phoenix,” Williams said. “I want to be a part of that rebirth.”


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