Phoenix Suns Offseason: New Head Coach & Roster Reinforcements On The Way


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Suns First Order Of Business: Replacing What Monty Williams Brought To The Table

The Phoenix Suns took another step backward in 2022-23, falling short of the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year.

The bar was raised significantly when the Suns reached the 2021 NBA Finals and blew a 2-0 series lead to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks — who went on to win four consecutive games to capture the championship.

It’s been championship-or-bust for the Suns ever since. And so far, it’s been a “bust” both times.

A year after getting crushed at home by the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of second round play, the Suns were eliminated by Nikola Jokić and the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the conference semifinals.

According to specialized basketball websites like Caesars Sportsbook Arizona, the Phoenix Suns need to strengthen their roster before the tip-off of the season. The General manager James Jones already made one notable change by firing head coach Monty Williams, who earned Coach of the Year honors just a year ago. Williams went 194-115 over his four seasons as the Suns’ head coach.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the Suns have reduced their list of head coaching candidates down to five.

The group is headlined by by three NBA championship-winning coaches in Nick Nurse (he led the Toronto Raptors to a title in 2019), Doc Rivers (with the Boston Celtics in 2008) and Frank Vogel (with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020) Suns assistant Kevin Young and Sacramento Kings assistant Jordi Fernandez are the other candidates.

Williams isn’t the only accomplished and well-regarded head coach that lost his job this year.

The Raptors parted ways with Nurse after losing their play-in contest to the Chicago Bulls. The Philadelphia 76ers fired Rivers after another disappointing second-round exit, and the Bucks stunningly fired Mike Budenholzer — who coached the team to the championship in 2021 — after losing to the Miami Heat in round one.

Potential Roster Changes

One obvious reason for optimism if you’re a Suns fan: The team will have Kevin Durant throughout the course of an entire season.

The Suns acquired the future Hall of Famer in a blockbuster deal with the Brooklyn Nets ahead of this year’s trade deadline. If Phoenix had Durant the entire year, perhaps they would have secured home advantage throughout the first round of the postseason. And maybe that makes a difference against a top club like the Nuggets.

Obviously, franchise star Devin Booker isn’t going anywhere, either.

But the Suns have to make a decision on All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who’s under contract for two more seasons. However, Phoenix could look to trade their other future Hall of Famer since none of the last two years on his contract include fully guaranteed money.

Paul had another stellar season for Phoenix (13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game in 59 games), but he turned 38 years of age this month. Ultimately, we can’t be surprised if the Suns opt for a shake-up by dealing Paul and replacing him with a younger point guard.

It also feels like 2018 first overall pick Deandre Ayton has played his final game with the organization. Earlier this month, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported that Phoenix is “expected to aggressively explore the trade market for” the 24-year-old.

Trading Paul and/or Ayton would leave two gaping holes in the starting five. If they trade Paul, Phoenix will need a more dynamic scorer (which Paul isn’t at this phase of his career) to complement the Durant-Booker duo.

Potential trade targets for Phoenix to explore, in the event they trade Paul and/or Ayton? Nets two-way star Ben Simmons, Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins or Toronto Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam.

Phoenix has two all-world players in Durant and Booker who will keep them in prime championship contention. There is a case to be made that they’re best off running it back with this core, hoping that a new head coach will be the only necessary change to get the team over the hump.

But Jones has proven he’s not shy to make franchise-altering moves to help his team win now. So all options should be on the table heading into what should be a very interesting offseason in The Desert.