Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon stole the show in their 104-93 Game 1 win in the NBA Finals on June 2. He was the Nuggets third-leading scorer with 16 points on 7/10 shooting from the field to go along with 6 rebounds. But it was not just Gordon’s offensive output that turned heads. So too did his defensive efforts.
Gordon was the primary defender on Heat star Jimmy Butler, who scored just 13 points in the loss. For reference, Butler ranks top 10 in playoff scoring. He has also had the responsibility of defending LeBron James and Kevin Durant in their previous two playoff series. When asked about being called upon to defend some of the NBA’s biggest names on basketball’s biggest stage, Gordon did not hold back.
“I’ll be sitting in my rocking chair when I’m 79, 90 years old, talking about kids, like, ‘yeah, back in the day I locked these guys up,” Gordon said after the Game 1 win when asked about being the primary defender on said stars.
Monty Williams Named New Coach of Detroit Pistons
After the Nuggets eliminated the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals, Phoenix decided to part ways with head coach Monty Williams. The decision was not easy as Williams is just a year removed from being named the NBA Coach of the Year and led the Suns to their first NBA Finals since 1993, a year before that.
Many believed Williams would not return to the sidelines next season and take a hiatus while continuing to collect what the Suns owed him on his deal. But the Detroit Pistons made Williams an offer he simply could not refuse. On May 31, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski announced that the Pistons would be signing Williams to a record six-year $78.5 million deal, making him the highest-paid coach in NBA history.
“Coach Monty Williams has agreed to a six-year, $78.5 million contract with the Detroit Pistons, sources told ESPN’s, Adrian Wojnarowski. It is the largest coaching deal in NBA history. Williams, 51, was fired by the Phoenix Suns earlier in May after four seasons as their coach. The move came after the Suns were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals,” Wojnarowski writes.
“Williams, who was named NBA Coach of the Year in May 2022, was 194-115 (.628) in the regular season and 27-19 in the playoffs for Phoenix. The Suns won a franchise-record 64 games in 2021-22 and reached the NBA Finals in 2021. In Detroit, Williams will replace Dwane Casey, who stepped down as the Pistons’ coach in April to move into a front-office role.”
Suns Name Frank Vogel New Head Coach
Shortly after the Pistons hired Williams, the Suns announced his successor in Phoenix. Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, who led the team to a title in 2020 during the NBA Bubble, will take over the reins in Phoenix, per ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
Vogel will come into Phoenix after one season removed from the sideline. But that does not mean he will be devoid of pressure. He will be coming in to lead a Suns’ core that features Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton. And with a team that stacked, the championship expectations will be running high.
Luckily for Vogel, he is no stranger to leading teams with high expectations. Not only from his experience with LeBron James and Anthony Davis during his Lakers tenure but with Paul George during his tenure with the Indiana Pacers. Vogel had Indiana one win away from beating the Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron-led Heat and advancing to the NBA Finals in 2013. It will be interesting to see if he can duplicate that success with the Suns.