As we continue with Day 7 of the 12 Days of pre-Christmas, we look at the head coach and his staff, one of the best put-together staffs in the league.
As we lead up to Christmas, let us once again be thankful for his hiring and the hope that it brought, and look at the staff that he has put together:
We start with the head coach, of course.
Monty Williams was hired as the 20th individual head coach the franchise has employed – with two repeat coaches in Jerry Colangelo and Cotton Fitzsimmons (three times). A nine-year veteran of the league, Monty is also the 14th head coach of the franchise to have played in the NBA.
Williams compiled a 173-221 record as head coach of the New Orleans Hornets from 2010-15, guiding the franchise to the playoffs in his first and last seasons in the Big Easy. The following season he became the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the San Antonio Spurs, which he held for one year before joining the Philadelphia 76ers as an assistant coach until his hiring last summer by the Phoenix Suns.
Randy Ayers was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the 3rd round of 1978, but was cut during training camp and immediately signed on as an assistant coach of his alma mater, Miami (Ohio).
Coaching collegiately until 1997 (he was the had coach of Ohio State from 1989-97, racking up a 124-108 record, losing in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in consecutive seasons in 1991 and ’92), he has been an NBA assistant coach from 1999 through 2015 (and was head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2003-04), coaching with Monty Williams twice, from 2010-12 and 2014-15 before re-joining Williams’ staff for this season.
Ayers, now 63-years-old with over 35 years of coaching experience, was brought on not only for his strong voice for the players, but also for the younger, more experienced members of the coaching staff.
You might remember Mark Bryant most famously from the Charles Barkley trade to Houston in 1996, the longest-serving Sun of the four that were acquired in the deal – which isn’t saying much, considering that he was with the franchise for only two years; Chucky Brown played in 10 games with Phoenix, Sam Cassell, 22, and Robert Horry, 32.
After a 15-year playing career, Bryant signed on as an assistant coach before the 2004-05 season with the Dallas Mavericks (for whom he played in 2000-01), moving to Orlando for two years beginning in 2005, then coaching with the Seattle SuperSonics and Oklahoma City Thunder from 2007-19 (coaching alongside Monty Williams in 2015-16) before joining Williams’ staff this past summer.
Willie Green too had a long career in the NBA as a player, spanning 12 seasons, the first seven years with the Philadelphia 76ers and ending with the Orlando Magic in 2015.
Most importantly, he played for Monty Williams in New Orleans in 2010-11.
His assistant coaching career has been short but tremendously successful thus far, having been with only the Golden State Warriors prior to joining the Phoenix Suns this summer. Joining the Warriors in 2016, he won back-to-back championships, making the Finals three consecutive years working for Steve Kerr, before leaving for the Suns where he was promised a larger assistant role under Monty Williams.
With no professional basketball experience, Larry Greer began his coaching career as an assistant coach for the Brandeis Judges of the NCAA’s D-III from 1989-92, before moving over to Boston University from 1994-03, then Wright State from 2004-05.
An advance scout for the Houston Rockets from 2005-06 and Portland Trail Blazers from 2007-10, He was promoted to assistant coach for the following two seasons.
He resigned to become an assistant coach of the Arizona State University Men’s basketball team under Herb Sendek where he served from 2012-15, before resigning and a year later taking on an advance scout position for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017-18 before a promotion to assistant coach for the following two seasons.
While with Portland and Oklahoma City, Greer worked with then-assistant coach, Monty Williams.
Darko Rajakovic has a long international coaching career although no professional playing experience.
The head coach for Borac Čačak from 1996-99 and Crvena zvezda from 1999-07, Darko concurrently earned a degree in basketball coaching from Belgrade Basketball Academy in Serbia in 2004. In 2009 he became the head coach of Espacio Torrelodones of the Spanish EBA League, where he remained for two seasons before being hired by the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA’s D-League, the first non-American-born head coach in D-League history.
After two seasons, he signed on with the Oklahoma City Thunder as an assistant coach under Scott Brooks, then receiving retention 2015 for Billy Donovan where he coached alongside Monty Williams in 2015-16.
A 13-year-veteran of the NBA, including four years with the LA Lakers (joining right after LA’s back-to-back titles of 2009 and 2010), Steve Blake played nine games for the Sydney Kings in 2016 before returning to the United States due to a private family issue, and preparing for his post-NBA career.
Following his retirement from the Detroit Pistons, Blake was hired by the Portland Trailblazers a coaching intern for the 2017-18 seasons (where he played in 2005-06, 2007-10, and 2014-15), before being promoted to a full-time, on-court assistant in 2018-19.
In his playing career, Monty Williams was a Portland Assistant during Blake’s first two stints.
While the team may not be winning much at the moment, Phoenix Suns fans can take heed that wile James Jones attempts to fix a currently broken roster, ha and Monty Williams has put together a staff that on this, the 7th Day of pre-Christmas, fans can be thankful for.