The Phoenix Suns fired former head coach Monty Williams on May 13 after back-to-back second-round playoff exits. The move came despite Williams winning the NBA Coach of the Year award just one season ago.
Three weeks after firing Williams, Suns owner Mat Ishbia and general manager Jame Jones have found his replacement, according ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He reported on June 2 that Phoenix will hire Frank Vogel.
“The Suns offered Vogel the job on Friday morning, and are expected to complete terms on a long-term deal that’ll deliver him the chance to coach All-NBA stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, sources said,” Wojnarowski wrote, noting that it’s a five-year deal. Financial terms were not included in the report.
“Vogel emerged out of a finalist group that included former Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers and Suns assistant Kevin Young, sources said,” Wojnarowski wrote.” Vogel comes with a 2020 NBA championship from the Lakers and a history of constructing elite NBA defenses.”
The Suns appear to be following the Lakers’ “blueprint” toward winning a title in the near future, according to Arizona Sports’ Kellan Olson, who called Vogel “one of the best defensive minds in the league.”
“It is a solid yet fairly predictable and uninspiring direction Phoenix took. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing,” Olson wrote on June 2. “Vogel arrives with an identity that will aid the Suns in targeting the right guys and sets a tone immediately for how they will win.”
Suns Gave ‘Strong Consideration’ to Kevin Young
The Vogel hire may come as a surprise to some because he wasn’t the most glamorous name in the candidate pool — which included Doc Rivers and Nick Nurse — and he missed the playoffs in his last season (2021-22) with the Lakers. But what also makes the hire surprising is that many people thought the job would go to Suns assistant Kevin Young, who got the vote of confidence from star shooting guard Devin Booker.
Wojnarowski says “strong consideration” was given to Young, but ultimately the Suns felt Vogel was the man to give them the best shot at winning a championship.
“Phoenix gave strong consideration to Young, who was Williams’ top assistant, and are still hopeful Young might stay on Vogel’s staff, sources said. Young has several options elsewhere in the NBA, too,” Wojnarowski said.
Frank Vogel Comes With Necessary Experience
Of all the coaches in the Suns’ candidate pool, Vogel comes with the most recent championship experience. In the 2020 NBA Bubble, he led the Los Angeles Lakers to a league-leading 17th NBA title, tying them with another storied franchise in the Boston Celtics.
But it is not just that Vogel comes with title experience, although it is an important factor when choosing a coach. He also has years of experience dealing with multiple stars and personalities.
Leading a team to a title is already a tall enough task, but when you have a team that consists of two superstars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, other personalities in Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee, and Kyle Kuzma, it is a lot to manage. He also coached Paul George and Lance Stephenson during his tenure with the Indiana Pacers.
Maybe Vogel will be the guy to get a handle on the obvious disconnect that has taken place in Phoenix. Deandre Ayton has been disengaged since the 2021 NBA Finals, and even with the addition of All-NBA talent Kevin Durant, the Suns still lack the mental capacity to finish games and overcome adversity in big moments. It will be interesting to see what Vogel brings to Phoenix.