AMIC: Monty Williams has huge solidity, pop influence in the playoffs and constant searches for coaching from the Lakers to the Kings

Phoenix – The goal, in essence, is to find yourself Monty Williams.

The Phoenix Suns’ third-year coach also showed up again Wednesday night when his team took a 2-0 lead over Dallas in the Western Conference semi-finals at the Center Footprint and continued to look worthy of his title-first status, he’s as good as they come in that (side) streak of the work. There’s a reason he’s widely seen as the favorite to win the NBA Coach of the Year award this season.

So while he probably didn’t hit any of those shots himself in Game 2, when Suns had a real shot mark of 75.7 percent. The second highest number ever in the playoffsThe inspiring role he continues to play with this particular group is undoubtedly huge. And always with a dose of humility.

“We have good players,” Williams said afterwards when asked about the Suns’ historic night of attack. “I’d like to sit here and tell you I move the chess pieces, (but) we have good players dropping the blows.”

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Los Angeles and Charlotte, the search for a coach of his caliber continues. The Kings, who briefly considered Williams as an option in the 2019 season before then-general manager Vlad Divac moved quickly to sign Luke Walton, appear likely to fill their vacancy sooner than either the Lakers or the Hornets. Sources say a decision between the three finalists is expected by the end of the week.

Former Orlando and Charlotte coach Steve Clifford was interviewed as was former Golden State coach and ESPN analyst Mark Jackson. Sources say Golden State’s assistant coach Mike Brown, whose team drew 1-1 in the Western semi-final series with Memphis, spent informal time with Kings officials on Wednesday and gave an official interview on Thursday.

As Bleacher Report’s Jake Fisher noted on Tuesday, there is already a strong feeling from sources close to the situation that Jackson is the favorite for Kings owner Vivek Ranadive. But the Kings insist there is a level playing field, and that sophomore general manager Monty McNair will be given a chance to make the final decision.

Given that Ranadive denied Joe Dumars’ bid to become McNair’s new front-office boss this week before he exited the league office, there is recent evidence that the Kings owner is showing internal support for GM. Only time will tell if this is the case with this rental.

However, it should be noted that Jackson was on Ranadive’s radar in ways beyond their shared time with the Warriors (Jackson was the coach there when Ranadive was a minority owner). On December 16, 2014, when then-Kings star DeMarcus Cousins ​​was in the midst of a bout of viral meningitis that had already cost then-Kings coach Michael Malone his job, Jackson held a secret meeting at the Sleep Train Arena with Cousins ​​and Kings officials for nearly two hours. .

The meeting led to all kinds of questions about whether Jackson was being considered as a replacement for Malone, who was Jackson’s first assistant with the Warriors. But in the end, the kings chose George Carl.

As for Brown, he has ties to influential Kings Assistant General Manager Wes Wilcox. During Brown’s tenure as head coach for Cleveland from 2005 to 2010, Wilcox rose through the ranks of the CAFs from scout to assistant coach to player personnel manager.

Who would… Phil… The Lakers coach vacancy?

Speaking of teams that missed the opportunity to hire Williams before his rise, the Lakers are part of this club as well. We’ll never know if he’ll lead them to a championship like Frank Vogel did in 2020, but there was a time in the same summer of 2019 when it seemed very possible that he would roam the Staples Center/Crypto.

But Williams went to Phoenix, the Lakers negotiations with Tai Lu went sideways And Vogel emerged as the man for the job. And now, once again, they find themselves looking for the right training.

As always with the Lakers, mansion plot plays a role. To this end, let’s revisit the discussion of Phil Jackson Reappeared this week by ESPN Report.

As we wrote in early March, Zen Master Things are back at Lakersland. That was the case last season when owner Jenny Boss welcomed his view on everything from Vogel’s performance as coach to Russell Westbrook’s challenging dynamics surrounding his struggles. And now that the Lakers are in the market for another coach, with Milwaukee assistant Darvin Hamm and Toronto assistant coach Adrian Griffin among them. well-known candidatesIt should come as no surprise that Jackson’s view on this important decision is still being taken into account.

Make no mistake, there are powerful people close to the Lakers who aren’t happy with the fact that Jackson’s voice is taken into account when he doesn’t have an official position with the franchise. Like it or not, Boss has relied on this kind of informal advice from people she trusts for years now. That was the case With Kobe Bryant before his death and was related to the selection of his former agent, Rob Pelinka, the Lakers vice president of basketball operations, in February 2017.

As the Boss Lakers beat writer Bill Oram in February, Magic Johnson is still a similar resource despite his work. Chaotic exit from the team’s front office In April 2019.

“For me, he still works with us,” she said. “In terms of his support, his wisdom, his insight, I invite him freely as needed.”

Other Lakers Items

• If LeBron James ultimately decides not to sign his contract extension with the Lakers in August, sources say Boss will not see his desire to complete the final season of his contract as a reason to consider his trade. Without an extension, James’ current deal will expire after next season (of which he owes $47.1 million).

It’s a natural question to ask in situations like this, because the idea of ​​leaving the James Lakers empty-handed by signing elsewhere in the summer of 2023 would be less than ideal. However, all indications are that the year-over-year approach is considered acceptable by the Lakers – as long as the relationship with James remains in good standing.

The most important factor here seems to be James’ level of confidence and happiness in their partnership. It is seen internally as the key to their shared future together – a key component of James’ superpowers if you will. It’s a different story if he’s indignant.

As I wrote in mid-April, James may want to leave his contractual options open. He has made it clear that he wants to play with his son, Bronny Jr, if and when he enters the NBA (in the summer of 2024 at the earliest). But from Buss onwards, it looks like the Lakers won’t claim any kind of long-term commitment from James as a form of protection against trading.

• I’m starting to wonder if the Lakers might not trade Russell Westbrook this summer after all. And no, not just because Oram made a file A convincing argument on Monday Why should they think twice about it.

When the decision was made to fire Vogel, sources say his handling of Westbrook and his inability to find a way to make him a more productive part of the program were among the factors that played a big role. There was a strong feeling that Vogel had to make Westbrook’s experiment work, and the fact that it didn’t lead to questions about whether Westbrook was put in a position to succeed. It sure smells like hope for a Ross revival.

And how is that for the sentiments connecting this thread: Phil Jackson has been known to have been a fan of Westbrook throughout his career. Sources say Phil Jackson has no interest in taking on this coaching job (or any other) himself – let’s just stop those rumors here – but his view of Westbrook is relevant. As we’ve proven, Jackson’s voice matters again.

More Monty and the eternal Greg Popovich effect

Just because Bob didn’t make the playoffs for the third season in a row doesn’t mean his impact is still being felt. On the contrary, in fact.

Like longtime San Antonio sportscaster Don Harris on Twitter On Tuesday, six of the eight coaches remaining in the qualifiers either played for the Tottenham legend or began their coaching career under him.

Williams: He played with Tottenham from 1996 to 1998, and was a Trainee training in the 2004-2005 season when they won the title.

Philadelphia Rivers Dock: He played for the Tottenham team from 1994 to 1996, when Popovic was the team’s general manager and vice president of basketball operations.

Memphis Taylor Jenkins: He was a Tottenham coach for the 2007-08 season, then worked as an assistant coach and head coach for the Austin Taurus in the local league in San Antonio, from 2008 to 2013.

Amy Odoka in Boston: He played for Tottenham from 2007 to 2009 and again in the 2010-11 season; He was Tottenham’s assistant coach from 2012 to 2019

Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee: He was an assistant to Tottenham from 1996 to 2013.

Steve Kerr from Golden State: He played for Tottenham from 1998 to 2001 and again in the 2002-03 season.

Williams, who dropped Popovich’s old reference for “appropriate fear” after the first game that sparked that debate, spoke about his mentor’s impressive training tree before game two.

“He’s done a lot for (the coaches) – he and (tottenham long-time CEO) RC (Buford) – but especially Bob,” Williams began. “They create opportunities for people to figure out what they want to do. Whether you play or not, this place has always been a bit of an opportunity school, if you’re going to do it. When you get there, they don’t tell you what to do. You are welcome to join in and see if you You want to do that and then look at all the options. That’s what Bob told me.

“He’s like, ‘Look… you have to figure that out.'” I can’t tell you what to do. And they put it to me and said, Find it. He’s done that to countless people, I don’t know. It has changed a lot of lives. I don’t know what to do if I have to start on my own. The coach had to set up the (daily routine) for me. I had PJ Carlesimo, Don Newman, Brett Brown, and RC to keep my feet in my tail every day when I was incorrect. There were some choice words that I can’t say to the audience of listeners, but they helped me in direction.”

(Monty Williams Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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