Even though the Phoenix Suns are trying to turn over a new leaf amid a recent transition to new ownership, and the contract Monty Williams got was a monster/outlier, this situation feeds into the longstanding notion that the franchise is a little cheap. It'll be years before the Suns fully shake that off. Now granted, the move to go all-in for Kevin Durant at the trade deadline was one of the bigger over-course-corrections of all-time, or so it appears. The roster was gutted and future draft capital was sacrificed for a championship-or-bust approach that ended in back-to-back losses in the second round by a combined 41 points.
It's still crazy that the Suns let Monty Williams go in the first place. As if the problematic culture that's plagued the organization for years was somehow his fault. Williams was the guy who helped Phoenix soar up from a scrapheap squad, cultivated the development of Devin Booker into a superstar, and positioned the Suns as legit contenders.
Phoenix won 19 games in 2018-19 after averaging barely over 22-ish wins over the previous three seasons. They were 34-39 the year before Monty arrived. Then, this:
Then...fired? No wonder the Pistons paid Monty that assload of money ($78.5 million over six years), as Greenie covered earlier this week. Talk about program building.
Meanwhile, we have Frank Vogel making his latest stop in the desert. A championship winner who coached the All-Star Game not once, but twice. As much as I dig Vogel and think he's been a convenient fall guy everywhere he's gone, it's hard to see the path for him to where he does a better job than Monty Williams with the Suns as they're currently constructed. I'm talking in terms of bottom-line, win-loss record. But to also be low-balled that hard compared to Monty (RELATIVELY SPEAKING, relax, I know it's many millions of dollars)? Damn.
From Vogel's perspective, I get the appeal of directing Booker and KD, not to mention the need to get back on the horse as a head coach. Hitching your wagon to two phenomenal players like them isn't a bad way to go. You do have to wonder, though, how much actual patience there will be for Vogel from Phoenix's brass if he can't deliver an NBA title. How long of a commitment is that six-year contract really? The Suns saw how much dough Monty got. Then they turn around and pay Vogel less than half that. It's a weird vibe. I guess more power to them for doing so?
If I were Vogel in that negotiating room, I'd whip out an old trick from my childhood, show off how fucking talented I was, and tell them, "I WAS ON LETTERMAN, YOU KNOW!!"
For real, how cool is that? Never seen the clip before. OK back to business.
Surely there's a plan to build out Phoenix's depth, which was exposed in the postseason by the eventual West champion Denver Nuggets. Vogel must've also take into account what the hell he wants to do with Chris Paul. Credit CP3 for extending his career as long as he has, but the man refuses not to get injured in the playoffs. Father Time is hitting him a lot harder than his good pal LeBron James, let's put it that way.
As great of a reputation as Monty has dealing with players, too, is there any way Vogel can push the right buttons to get more consistency out of Deandre Ayton? The former No. 1 overall pick hasn't realized his full potential and may never do so without the proper guidance. Again, not laying all the blame on Ayton for that. Hard to thrive in an environment where Robert Sarver was the owner.
Vogel strikes me as someone who has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Maybe it's because he has a reputation as a defensive guru. Or maybe it's the fact that he's been fired from three different leading jobs. What some may view as a conservative retread hire, though, I actually think the Suns got Vogel at an absolute steal of a bargain. It just feels like he has such a mountainous task ahead to do a superior job to his far better-compensated predecessor.