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Once a Lakers coaching candidate, Monty Williams has the Suns off to a fast start

Philadelphia 76ers v Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams interviewed for the Lakers coaching position this summer.
(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

In the Phoenix Suns, Anthony Davis sees the hallmarks of a Monty Williams-coached team. Williams was his head coach for his first three NBA seasons, so he knows what that looks like.

“Everything that they’re doing right now — toughness, great pace, they play hard — their roster fits Monty’s style and his system,” Davis said. “And when I played with him it was a great time. He was a great coach. We still stay in contact all the time. I still talk to him. So I’m happy that he’s back on the front of the bench with a head coaching job and also he’s doing well.”

There was a moment in time when it seemed possible Williams would become the Lakers’ head coach. It was before the Lakers traded for Davis, so Davis says he wasn’t paying too much attention to the Lakers’ process.

Williams was part of the Lakers’ first round of interviews, at a time when many expected Tyronn Lue to be their choice. They sent general manager Rob Pelinka, co-owners Jeanie, Joey and Jesse Buss, Kurt and Linda Rambis and chief operating officer Tim Harris to Philadelphia to interview Williams.

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The Lakers’ negotiations with Lue ended, and Williams was offered the Suns head coaching job, with a five-year contract, which was two more than the Lakers had offered Lue.

“They didn’t make me an offer, Mr. Sarver [Robert Sarver, the Suns’ owner] made me an offer, so it wasn’t part of my thinking,” Williams said on Tuesday morning. “I had conversations with the Lakers, they were really gracious. I was humbled to sit down with Jeanie Buss and that whole crew but it never came down to that. The Suns offered me a great opportunity and I took it.”

Williams joined a Phoenix team that was coming off four of the five worst seasons in franchise history. Last year they won 19 games. Over the summer they added point guard Ricky Rubio and center Aron Baynes, two veterans on an otherwise exceptionally young team. Devin Booker has been one of the most electric young players in the league for years and the Suns are off to a 6-3 start.

Their style is a little bit different from what Davis saw when they were together in New Orleans.

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“The league wasn’t as fast as it is now with the way things have changed,” Davis said. “He always wanted to play fast. He brought guys in who knew the game of basketball who were tough and physical and surrounded Devin Booker with a lot of guys that know how to play the game. So I expected nothing less from him coming in.

“He wanted to be back on the front of the bench and be a head coach and he’s proving why he should be there.”


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