The Phoenix Suns have parted ways with Head Coach Monty Williams, the team announced Saturday night.
Over the past two seasons, the Suns were eliminated in the second round, and in those elimination games, they were routed by the Mavericks last season and the Nuggets this season on their home court.
Williams, 51, spent the past four seasons in Phoenix, and during his time with the Suns, the team made the Finals in the 2021 season, and he helped change the culture.
He had a record of 194-115 with the Suns.
Over the past three seasons, which included him winning Coach of the Year in 2021, Williams was the winningest coach in the NBA.
“Monty has been foundational to our success over the past four seasons,” said President of Basketball Operations and General Manager James Jones via a press release. “We are filled with gratitude for everything Monty has contributed to the Suns and to the Valley community.
“While it was difficult for me to make this decision, I look forward to continuing the work to build a championship team.”
Phoenix has a solid core of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Chris Paul, but with new ownership, who are looking to win now, you get the sense they may make some changes to this roster.
The Phoenix Suns 2022-23 season ended on Thursday night as they were routed by the Nuggets at home 125-100 in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinals series.
Denver wins the series 4-2.
The Suns, without Deandre Ayton(rib) and Chris Paul(groin), trailed by as many as 32 points.
Phoenix, whose season ended last season in blowout fashion by the Mavericks in Game 7 in the second round, went down without much resistance. Ironically, in this game and Game 7 against Dallas, where they lost 123-90, the Suns trailed by 30 points at the break.
Even with the injuries, losing the way they lost and losing in the second round is a disappointment for the Suns.
“It was a bad feeling,” Durant said of the loss. “Embarrassing.”
After he was acquired from the Nets in February, Durant missed time due to injury, and the Suns really needed more time to build chemistry. It’s no excuse, but it’s the reality of the situation.
The 34-year-old says he will work hard in the offseason and will do whatever the organization needs him to do.
“I just try to control what I can, which is working extremely hard,” Durant said. “Putting a lot of preparation into the game and my skill. Then just being present for the organization whenever they need me at any point, just making sure my phone is open. The dialogue is there; I am sure we will check in with each other throughout the whole summer. I just think my job is to continue to keep getting better and keep finding ways to get better as a player.”
Phoenix still has a formidable team going forward. Durant, Devin Booker, and Ayton are under contract, but based on how the season ended, you wonder if they will move on from Ayton. Regarding the 38-year-old Paul, he has a partial guarantee for the 2023-24 season, and maybe he could be on the move as well.
You may also have to question whether Monty Williams is safe after two straight second-round exits. On the surface, it appears he would return, but anything can happen.
This team could look different, but the core is still solid.
On Wednesday, Suns forward Kevin Durant was set to make his home debut against one of his former teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, in warmups, Durant slipped and twisted his left ankle and could not play in the Suns’ 132-101 win over the Thunder.
On Thursday, the Suns announced that Durant had sustained a left ankle sprain. He will be re-evaluated in three weeks, according to the team.
With Durant, who was acquired from the Nets before the trade deadline, in the lineup, the Suns are 3-0. If Durant is out for three weeks, he will return by the end of March and in time for the playoffs, which, if the Suns avoid the Play-In Tournament, begins on April 15.
Overall, this is good news for Durant and the Suns.
On Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks(33-32) got a combined 82 points(Doncic 42, Irving 40) from Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, and they defeated the visiting 76ers 133-126.
On Sunday against the visiting Suns(36-29), Doncic and Irving became the first pair of Mavericks teammates to each score 30-plus points in consecutive games. Doncic had 34 points, while Irving scored 30 points.
However, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker almost did to the Mavs what Doncic and Irving did to the 76ers. Booker had 36 points, and Durant had a game-high 37, including the game-winning jumper with 14.2 seconds to go as the Suns defeated Dallas 130-126 at American Airlines Center.
“I’ve been on the other side of it,” Booker said about Durant’s shot. “I know it’s a tough cover. It’s one of those situations where no matter what you do, he’s playing with just him and the hoop out there. His skill set for his size is second none. That was another example of that tonight.”
Durant added on the final shot: “Once I had him on my hip, I felt like I was in good position to just stop on a dime.”
Mavs coach Jason Kidd showed love to Durant.
“I thought that’s what KD [Kevin Durant] does,” Kidd said. “He went away from the double team, and when he rises, he’s longer than 7 feet, and he got to his spot.”
Dallas had a chance to tie, but Doncic’s short floater rimmed out.
“I just missed that one,” Doncic said. “I thought it was in, but I just missed it. One of my friends texted me saying, ‘I would have even made that.’”
After the miss, Doncic and Booker had a little altercation, and the two went face-to-face.
However, neither Doncic nor Booker would say what words were said to cause the confrontation.
“I don’t think you can say it on camera,” Doncic said. “He was talking to me. It’s not for TV. I would get fined… It’s just a competitive game; just next time, don’t wait till there are three seconds left to talk.”
Booker, who added five rebounds and a season-high 10 assists, says he has no issues with Doncic.
“I’m not here to tattle tale,” Booker said. “I was talking to the ref. He said something to me; first, I responded. You guys [the media] always say you don’t want everyone to be ‘friendly-friendly,’ so there you go, you got some smoke. It’s just two competitors going at it. Everybody speaks on how friendly the NBA is now, and they don’t like that. I have no problem with Luka [Dončić] on or off the court, but when we’re competing, we’re competing. You guys are just trying to stir the pot. I don’t have problems with nobody.”
There is a little rivalry between the Suns and Mavs after Dallas defeated Phoenix in 7 in the Western Conference semifinals last season, and Irving can feel it.
“You see it from afar. It’s definitely different, obviously, being out here,” Irving said. “The level of play rises. Emotions rise. I think we see everyone display that on their facial expressions or communicating with the refs, going back-and-forth. At the end of the day, No one is really going to fight out there. “
With the loss, the Mavs are the seventh seed in the West. Dallas is 2-3 on their current six-game homestand, and they conclude the homestand on Tuesday night against the Jazz.
The Suns move to 3-0 with Durant in the lineup.
-Doncic added nine rebounds and four assists, and Irving added four rebounds and seven assists.
-Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points on 6-8 shooting from 3-point range. Hardaway Jr. finished the first half with 18 points, helped by his 5-6 shooting clip from 3-point range. The first half was his highest-scoring first half of the season and tied his career-best for the most 3FG in the first half.
-Christian Wood came off the bench for 17 points on 5-7 shooting to go with three rebounds. Wood has scored 10+ points in nine straight games, averaging 15.3 points per game in that span.
Before the trade deadline, both the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks made big moves. Dallas acquired Kyrie Irving from the Nets, and the Phoenix Suns also made a deal with the Nets to get Kevin Durant.
With those moves, the Suns and Mavericks have put themselves in a position to make deep playoff runs. Last season, the Mavs made it to the Western Conference Finals, while the Suns fell to the Mavericks in seven in the second round of the playoffs.
Durant has not been on the court yet with the Suns; he is expected to be available at some point after the All-Star break, but we have seen Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving together for the Mavericks. Dallas is 0-2 with Doncic and Irving in the lineup, but in their first home game together against the Timberwolves, Doncic had 36, and Irving added 33, including 26 in the fourth quarter.
During All-Star weekend, Durant was asked about Doncic and Irving together; he believes that duo will be tough to stop.
“It’s going to be incredible,” Durant said. “You see, already the last game they played together, they lost, but they were down 20. In the fourth quarter, they both came out there, and Kyrie had 26 in the fourth, and Luka hit some big shots. So it’s going to be like that. It’s going to be tough to guard them.”
Clippers forward Paul George thinks Doncic and Irving will be great together.
“It was crazy that trade happened, and I joked with Luka today because we usually, what we call fire on him, which is double-teaming him to get the ball out of his hands,” George said. “Now, you can’t do that because if Kyrie gets it, you’re in the same predicament. They’re going to be special together. I know they’re still figuring it out who gets the last shot and whatnot. They have to figure out the little wrinkles, but those two are going to be special together. Elite scorers. Elite playmakers.”
Doncic and Irving have 22 regular-season games to come together. That’s not a lot of time, but hopefully, for Dallas(31-29), it will be enough time for these two to gel before the playoffs.
The Phoenix Suns made a splash move and a move that could put them in a position to win an NBA title.
On Thursday, they acquired forwards Kevin Durant and T.J. Warren from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four future first-round picks, and a pick swap.
Durant, 34, had requested a trade in the offseason but decided to stay with the Nets. However, Kyrie Irving requested a trade last week and was sent to the Dallas Mavericks, and ultimately, Brooklyn decided to move Durant.
Suns owner Mat Ishbia is excited to bring Durant and Warren to Phoenix.
“Today is a transformative day for this organization,” said Ishbia via a press release. “We are thrilled to welcome Kevin and T.J. to the Valley as we build a championship culture both on and off the court,” Ishbia added. “Not only is Kevin one of the greatest and most accomplished players in the history of the sport, but his character also embodies the world-class commitment to excellence we are instilling across every facet of this organization.”
Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager James Jones is also excited about the possibilities.
“We are elated to welcome Kevin and T.J. to the Valley,” Jones said. “Both players are dynamic scorers and fierce competitors who compete with intensity night in and night out. We’re excited to see the added value they will contribute to our team.”
Durant has been out since January 8 with a sprained meniscus and reportedly could return sometime after the All-Star break.
The Phoenix Suns are all in, and that has to be exciting for anybody associated with the team. Durant has three years left on his contract, Devin Booker signed a four-year, supermax contract extension last offseason; Deandre Ayton got a four-deal last summer, and Chris Paul has two more seasons left on his contract after this one, so again, this team is locked and loaded to go after a title for the next few seasons.
With what they added in Durant, anything short of an NBA title in the next couple of seasons would be a huge disappointment in Phoenix.
Kyrie Irving’s time with the Brooklyn Nets has reportedly come to an end.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Mavericks are sending Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick, and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to the Nets in exchange for Irving and Markieff Morris.
The 30-year-old Irving, who can become a free agent at the end of the season, reportedly requested a trade from the Nets on Friday, and two days later, he’s on the move. Irving reportedly requested a trade after he and the Nets could not come together on a contract extension.
Now, Irving will team with Luka Doncic. Dallas(28-26) needed another star to team with Doncic, and for at least the rest of the season, they will have that, and if Irving can be a good solider for the next few months, maybe he could have a home in Dallas, but history tells us, that could be a problem.
According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Irving’s extension talks are expected to be put off until this summer. He is eligible for a two-year extension now and a four-year deal in the summer.
Irving, who is averaging 27.1 ppg in 40 games this season, is worth the risk for the Mavericks. Dallas was treading water and needed to do something. Here’s another reality, if things don’t work out for Dallas, they will have cap space.
According to MacMahon, if they don’t re-sign the eight-time All-Star, the Mavs will have close to max salary cap space this summer.
Regarding the Nets(32-20), they get Dinwiddie(17.3 PPG), a decent scorer, and Finney-Smith is a solid 3-and-D wing player, so when Kevin Durant gets healthy, the Nets can still compete. According to Wojnarowski, the Nets will continue to try to improve their roster before the trade deadline.
Irving spent four seasons with the Nets, and injuries were an issue throughout his time with Brooklyn; not receiving the COVID vaccine caused him to miss time, and retweeting a film that some have called antisemitic was an issue, and in the end, both parties needed a divorce.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were named captains in the 2023 All-Star Game at Vivint Arena in Utah, the league announced Thursday.
In the East, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Donovan Mitchell were named starters, while in the West, James will be joined by Nikola Jokic, Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic, and Stephen Curry in the starting lineup.
James(7,418,116), who made his NBA-record-tying 19th All-Star appearance, was the leading vote-getter overall, and Antetokounmpo(6,761,032) was the leading vote-getter in the East.
Fans, current NBA players, and a media panel selected starters for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. Fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote to determine the starters, while players and media accounted for 25 percent each.
Each player’s score was calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes. The two guards and three frontcourt players with the best score in each conference were named NBA All-Star Game starters.
The All-Star reserves will be named on February 2, and the NBA All-Star game will take place on February 19. On that night, James and Antetokounmpo will select their teammates.
-At 23, Doncic joins Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Isiah Thomas, and Anthony Davis as the only players to earn four All-Star nods before their 24th birthday.
-This is Mitchell’s fourth NBA All-Star selection and his first time being selected as a starter.
-Williamson, who is also an All-Star starter for the first time his career, becomes the fourth New Orleans player to be voted a starter, joining Chris Paul (twice), Anthony Davis (x3), and DeMarcus Cousins.