Sources: Suns to meet with Williams on Friday

NBA

Phoenix Suns officials will travel to Toronto to meet with the franchise’s top coaching candidate, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams, on Friday, league sources told ESPN.

Williams has a second interview with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday in Philadelphia that includes members of the Buss family, sources said.

The Suns appear determined to preempt a Lakers offer, which sources say was part of the timing in the dismissal of former coach Igor Kokoskov on Monday. The Lakers will have completed second interviews with Williams and Ty Lue before the end of Thursday night, and could be closer to reaching a decision on whom to offer the job.

The Suns seemingly will be tasked with making a compelling case on franchise stability to Williams, given that the team will be hiring its fifth coach in five years.

The Suns’ senior front-office leadership — including general manager James Jones and Jeff Bower, the vice president of basketball operations — has history with Williams. Jones played for Williams when the latter was an assistant coach in Portland, and Bower hired Williams as New Orleans’ head coach in 2010 — only to be fired before Williams coached his first game.

Owner Robert Sarver has been the constant in the Suns’ organizational turmoil, but there is a growing collection of young talent, including Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges — and the possibility of a high-level pick in the June NBA draft — that provides appeal to the opportunity.

Williams returned to coaching this season as Brett Brown’s top assistant. He spent the previous two years in the San Antonio Spurs‘ front office following the death of his wife, Ingrid, in early 2016.

Williams left the Oklahoma City Thunder as associate head coach in the aftermath of his wife’s death. He and his children relocated to San Antonio, where Williams had extended family.

Before his time with the Thunder, Williams coached New Orleans for five seasons. He reached the playoffs in his first season (2010-11) and his last (2014-15). Williams coached Anthony Davis and maintains a strong relationship with him. Davis has requested a trade from New Orleans and considers the Lakers a preferred destination. He can be a free agent in 2020.

The Sixers play the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal on Saturday.

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