They say everyone deserves a second chance. In the NBA coaching ranks, Monty Williams is probably the prime example for that.
On Friday, Williams agreed to a five-year deal to become the next head coach of the Phoenix Suns. He’ll officially take the position once the Philadelphia 76ers season is finished where he is currently an assistant coach.
Williams was also linked to the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching position but it appears that the position will be going to former Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue.
The 47-year-old has worked his way back through the ranks after his first stint as a head coach ended in 2015 after five seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans.
After stints in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia as an assistant coach, as well as a front office stint with the San Antonio Spurs, Williams is now ready to become the leader of an organization and a young nucleus, something he’s done once before.
Williams coached the New Orleans Pelicans from 2010 to 2015, a time in which the franchise dealt their superstar Chris Paul and underwent a rebuild that saw the additions of 2012 first overall pick Anthony Davis, role players Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson and also an All-Star in Jrue Holiday.
The Pelicans’ rebuild took three seasons but under Williams and the young nucleus, they returned to the playoffs in 2015 when they edged out Oklahoma City for the eighth seed only to be swept by the Golden State Warriors in the first round. Williams was fired following the postseason sweep.
Williams had to face adversity in his profession but that never prepared him for the tragedy he had to face in his personal life.
In February 2016, his wife, Ingrid, was killed in an automobile accident in Oklahoma City when her car was struck head-on by another vehicle that crossed lanes. Williams stepped away from coaching for two years while raising his children and coping with the loss of his wife.
Williams returned to the sidelines at the beginning of this season as an assistant under 76ers head coach Brett Brown. Philadelphia went 51-31 in the regular season and is currently ahead two games to one over Toronto in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
The Phoenix Suns have been a peculiar franchise. They have a lot of young talent on the roster including Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, and Josh Jackson as well as veterans like Jamal Crawford and Tyler Johnson.
However, the organization hasn’t seemed to be providing a great culture as they’re now on their fifth head coach since 2016 and their owner has even threatened to move the team to Seattle or Las Vegas over an arena dispute with the city of Phoenix.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Friday night that Williams felt more comfortable with the Suns front office than he did with what the Lakers currently have structured which should be encouraging for Suns fans who may be worried about the team’s direction.
Former NBA player James Jones is now the team’s general manager and the team is tied for the best odds to land the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft which means they have an excellent chance to land Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or RJ Barrett to their young core.
The addition of Monty Williams could be exactly what the organization needed all along, a veteran coach who has dealt with young talent and a rebuild. If the players follow Williams lead, then Phoenix basketball could get back into contention quicker than people think.