The Suns Remain the Only Squad with a True Championship Contending Roster without a Head Coach.
The Phoenix Suns are in the midst of a thorough interview process to fill their vacant head coach position over the Memorial Day weekend, according to sources. The Suns fired Monty Williams just two days after a 25-point loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. The Nuggets went on to sweep the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals and reach their first-ever NBA Finals.
Williams Couldn’t get the Suns Over the Top
Under Williams’ guidance, the Suns reached the NBA Finals in 2021 and achieved the league’s best record in the 2021-22 season with a franchise-record 64 victories. Williams was also honored with the league’s Coach of the Year award. However, the team suffered a 33-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals. Meanwhile, it was reported that Nick Nurse, former head coach of the Toronto Raptors, had reached an agreement to become the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers parted ways with Doc Rivers shortly after their Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston
Celtics. Despite Rivers’ tenure, Philadelphia was unable to advance beyond the conference semifinals during his three seasons with the team. In the Suns’ head coaching search, Frank Vogel, Kevin Young (Suns associate head coach), Jordi Fernandez (Sacramento Kings assistant), Nurse, and Rivers were confirmed as finalists. Vogel, Nurse, and Rivers have all won NBA championships as head coaches with the Lakers, Raptors, and Celtics, respectively. Nurse is now off the board.
Kevin Young is a Formidable Sleeper Candidate
Kevin Young, who joined the Suns coaching staff in 2020, is seen as a favorable candidate for the Sun’s position, partly due to the strong relationship he has built with All-Star Devin Booker. Booker is on the record regarding how much he likes working with Young.
“He can do stuff on the court and he’s a mastermind with the Xs and Os and game scouting and knowing teams,” Booker said. “So having the balance of both has been a big boost for my career. He’s really helped and is someone you can go to, ask any type of question. He’s been around it for a long time. He knows the game.”
The Suns Remain Patient With Quality Options Still Available
The remaining coaching vacancies are in Toronto and Detroit. Nurse withdrew from consideration for the Milwaukee Bucks head coaching position, with Adrian Griffin emerging as a potential candidate for the role. Griffin previously served as Nurse’s assistant in Toronto. Now with Nurse off of the board, the Suns will continue their thorough evaluation process to identify the best candidate for their head coaching position. It truly feels like insider Kevin Young is the frontrunner, but it’s hard to pass on two championship coaches in Rivers and Vogel. Time will tell.