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Monty Williams reportedly disliked coaching 2 specific players on Suns

Monty Williams looking on

Apr 19, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams reacts during the second quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans during game two of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Monty Williams is no longer the head coach of the Phoenix Suns, some details are beginning to trickle out about his time with the team.

Longtime Phoenix sportswriter John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM appeared this week on “The HoopsHype Podcast” and spoke about Williams’ tenure as Suns coach. Among his revelations was that Williams supposedly did not like coaching two particular Phoenix players — Jae Crowder and Deandre Ayton.

“The Jae Crowder situation was all on Monty,” Gambadoro said. “He told people [Crowder] was too difficult to handle and coach. Monty didn’t want Jae. It wasn’t the Suns organization. He didn’t want Jae around.

“[With] Deandre Ayton, Monty didn’t want him either,” added Gambadoro. “He wanted them to trade him to Indiana for Myles Turner. He didn’t like coaching Ayton. When Ayton signed his maximum contract when the Suns matched his offer sheet, Monty wasn’t even there and didn’t show up when Ayton signed it at the arena or call him to say, ‘Congratulations.’ Monty is a good coach and a player’s coach. But he’s a player’s coach for the players he likes, [and] he wasn’t in on Jae and Deandre.”

You can listen to the full Gambadoro episode (and read a transcript) here.

Williams led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 2021 with Crowder and Ayton as two of his starters. But the tension was indeed evident with both players.

Crowder lost his starting job to Cameron Johnson before the start of this season and embarked on an ugly (and lengthy) holdout that eventually saw him get traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. As for Ayton, he had multiple big blow-ups with Williams during games, and their relationship never really seemed to recover (with one of Williams’ last acts as Phoenix coach even being to bench Ayton for a playoff game).

The Suns ultimately fired Williams last month and replaced him with Frank Vogel. Williams has since signed on to become the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons (for a rather exorbitant amount of money). With younger players, smaller egos, and lower expectations in Detroit, Williams may end up having a better time.

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