Former Phoenix Suns star Mikal Bridges strongly reacted to the franchise firing Monty Williams as head coach.
Bridges, who was traded by the Suns to the Brooklyn Nets in the blockbuster Kevin Durant trade, told Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor and Channing Crowder on “The Pivot Podcast” that Williams wasn’t the “problem” in Phoenix.
“He’s going to get through it,” Bridges said. “He knows he’s a hell of a coach. He probably knows about the situation. Me personally, I say Monty is not the problem, but who am I?”
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Williams was fired on May 13 and new Suns owner Mat Ishbia made the decision. Williams was 194-115 in the regular season and 27-19 in the playoffs with the Suns. He guided Phoenix to the 2021 NBA Finals and won the Coach of the Year Award in 2022.
“New Suns owner Mat Ishbia made the decision to dismiss Williams immediately after Thursday night’s Game 6 loss to the Denver Nuggets and had general manager James Jones call him on Saturday night and deliver the news, sources said,” Wojnarowski reported. “The pressure on Williams increased from the moment Ishbia engineered the trade deadline deal for Kevin Durant in February, shortly after Ishbia’s ownership group was approved by the league’s Board of Governors.”
The Suns lost to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals in six games.
Mikal Bridges: ‘Monty’s Not the Problem’
Bridges is confident that Williams will get another job soon.
“Monty’s not the problem, but he’s going to be great somewhere else,” Bridges said. “He’s going to get another chance and he’s going to be alright.”
Wojnarowski reported that Ishbia “never warmed to Williams as his coach.” Williams had three years and more than $20 million left on his contract with the Suns.
“Ishbia had never warmed to Williams as his coach and decided quickly after Thursday night’s season-ending loss that he would fire him, sources said,” Wojnarowski reported. “(James) Jones has long been an advocate and ally to Williams, but was quoted in the team’s news release on Saturday night saying that ‘it was difficult for me to make this decision.’ Williams had three years and more than $20 million left on his contract, sources told ESPN. He is expected to become a prominent candidate in coaching searches elsewhere in the league, especially the Toronto Raptors’, sources said.”
NBA Scout: Mikal Bridges Was ‘Pissed’ About Getting Traded by the Suns
“Between the draft and getting traded to Brooklyn, a lot of guys got more publicity than he did,” the NBA scout said. “Mikal might be a skinny dude with a big smile, but he’s also from Philly. Nobody holds a grudge quite like a Philly guy. Mikal’s been waiting to unleash how pissed he’s been for being traded from a contending team (Phoenix). Even though he said he knew why they traded him and he would’ve traded himself for Durant too, it doesn’t change the fact that he could be pissed off about it. He’s obviously still pissed off about the Philly trade, which he’s openly said he’s still pissed at.”
Bridges took his game to another level with the Nets. The swingman averaged 26.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 27 games with Brooklyn.