Sports

Suns tap 76ers assistant Monty Williams as new coach

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PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns are looking for stability after their previous coach lasted just one season.

They hope Monty Williams is the man to lead their turnaround.

The Suns announced Friday that they had come to terms with Williams, a former head coach and a current assistant in Philadelphia. He will take over as Phoenix’s fifth coach in five seasons when the 76ers’ playoff run ends. They lead Toronto 2-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Williams replaces Igor Kokoskov, who was fired last week after one disappointing season.

“Monty brings a wealth of NBA experience, both as a coach and former player, in addition to being a high-character individual who will infuse basketball wisdom and life lessons into our locker room,” Suns general manager James Jones said in a release. “Monty is well respected for his coaching pedigree, leadership and commitment to the community, all of which make him the ideal person to lead our team moving forward.”

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The 47-year-old Williams previously spent five seasons in charge in New Orleans from 2010 to 2015, a stint during which he led the franchise to two postseason appearances. He is in his first season as an assistant coach with the 76ers. He also played nine NBA seasons with New York, San Antonio, Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia.

“Anybody who pays attention even a little bit understands he’s elite people,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “He’s emerging, relatively young coach who’s incredibly relational and has been studying how to be an NBA coach. He’s been around and I hope he’s taken something from our program.”

Williams takes over a Suns team that has been mired in mediocrity, missing the playoffs for nine straight seasons. Phoenix finished 19-63 this season, second-worst in franchise history, in Kokoskov’s only year in the desert.

The Los Angeles Lakers had been in the running to hire Williams after they fired Luke Walton.

Williams ended up in Phoenix to lead a young Suns roster that includes Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft.

Phoenix also will have a high pick in this year’s draft after finishing tied with Cleveland for the league’s second-worst record behind the New York Knicks, who were 17-65.

“I’ve been blessed to coach alongside and play for some of the best coaches in the NBA, and consider it a privilege to once again be a head coach with an excellent organization like the Suns,” Williams said in a statement through the Suns. “It is a tremendous opportunity with a talented group of players and a loyal fan base. I will be very excited to get to the Valley, connect with our team and get to work.”

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