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Monty Williams makes it clear: He didn’t choose Suns over Lakers

Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams cheers on his team during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Monty Williams did meet with the Los Angeles Lakers to discuss their head-coaching opening this offseason.

But the decision to eventually land with the Phoenix Suns was an easy one, he said Tuesday before the Suns hosted the Lakers at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

“I didn’t have a process of choosing anything,” Williams told reporters at shootaround. “Phoenix, Mr. Sarver offered me a great opportunity. If anything, I was torn about it (coaching in) the playoffs with Philly, figuring out how to balance a job opportunity and the job I had. That was my mindset at that time. I was torn there.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in May that the Lakers were “surprised” that Williams took the Phoenix job.

They had met with the former 76ers assistant coach twice and considered Williams and former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue as the frontrunners for their vacancy after firing Luke Walton following last season. Wojnarowski reported Lakers star LeBron James did not push for the team to hire his former head coach in Lue.

“He didn’t tell the Lakers you have to [hire Lue] because they were ready to move toward Monty Williams,” Wojnarowski said on his podcast, “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.”

The Lakers eventually landed with former Pacers and Magic coach Frank Vogel leading James, Anthony Davis and a restructured team for 2019-20.

Williams doesn’t have any especially strong feelings toward the Lakers (7-2) as Phoenix plays them for the first time this season at 7 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

There was no fork in the road or decision to make back when he was one of the hottest names on the head-coaching market.

“It’s not even a part of the equation for tonight,” Williams said. “(The Lakers) didn’t make me an offer. Mr. Sarver made me an offer. It wasn’t even a part of my thinking. I had conversations with the Lakers. They were really gracious and I was really humbled to sit down and talk to (owner) Ms. Buss and that whole crew but it never came down to that.

“The Suns offered me a great opportunity and I took it.”

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