It's been a whirlwind of a year for the Phoenix Suns, starting with a workplace misconduct scandal that rocked the core of the organization, forcing Robert Sarver to sell the team. The Suns put all of their chips on the table midway through the season, parting with 3-and-D ace Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson for future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant.
The move was viewed as one that would have damning ramifications if it didn't work out, especially considering what all was given up to land Durant. Not to mention the fact that the Suns finished the 2021-22 season with a 64-18 record, only to get sautéed in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals, to the tune of 123-90.
After another disappointing second-round exit, it was certain that new Suns owner Mat Ishbia was going to shake things up. There were reports that the Suns were open to moving Chris Paul, who the Houston Rockets should consider pursuing, along with Deandre Ayton.
How the Rockets' swift coaching search has affected yet another team
On Saturday, the Suns made the first move on that front, opting to part with Monty Williams, who was just named Coach of the Year in 2021-22. The issue the Suns will now face is the fact that Ime Udoka, who was the best coach on the market, has already been nabbed by the Rockets.
The swift manner in which the Rockets' brass went about their coaching search has proven to have been a brilliant move, and one that has burned several other organizations, starting with the Toronto Raptors, who wanted Udoka and have had to settle for less-than-ideal candidates.
The Rockets deciding to get their coaching vacancy filled immediately meant that they'd be competing against themselves and forcing a coach to choose between either their vacancy or the unknown variable of whether another vacancy would open up, followed by whether said vacancy would be a feasible option for them.
And a bird in the hand is always better than one in the bush. For example, the Milwaukee Bucks and now Phoenix Suns have vacancies, but would Udoka have been a possibility for Phoenix? Again, they had a workplace misconduct scandal that culminated in an investigation that just ended.
Would the optics have allowed them to hire Udoka, who had the same sort of issues in Boston? That would be a public relations nightmare. But in spite of that, Udoka's pre-existing relationship with Kevin Durant (who he coached in Brooklyn) would certainly have counted for something and probably would have landed him an interview, at the very least.
But the Rockets prevented any team from even having a chance at Udoka, which was a masterful move by the front office. Your loss, Suns.