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Suns hire veteran coach Frank Vogel to lead franchise

Suns hire veteran coach Frank Vogel to lead franchise

PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns hired former NBA champion coach Frank Vogel on Friday to replace Monty Williams, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the move.

The 49-year-old Vogel has been the coach of the Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers during his career and now moves to the Suns, where he’ll try to help the franchise win its first title in its 55-year history with a roster that includes stars Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul.

Vogel led the Lakers to an NBA title in 2020 when the league finished its season in the Florida bubble. He has a 431-389 career record over 11 seasons and a 49-39 mark in the playoffs.

Phoenix fired Williams on May 13 despite four successful seasons, including an NBA Finals appearance in 2021 and a coach of the year award in 2022. But the Suns also experienced two straight embarrassing playoff exits — trailing by 30 points at halftime of elimination games at home.

The Suns were tied to several candidates during their nearly three-week search, including assistant Kevin Young and bigger names like Nick Nurse and Doc Rivers. On Friday, they settled on Vogel, who is known for his defensive acumen.

He’s also well-versed in coaching superstar players, helping LeBron James to his most recent title.

New Suns owner Mat Ishbia hasn’t been shy about shaking up the franchise since he took over in February, adding the 13-time All-Star Durant in a blockbuster trade deadline deal. Despite the bold move, the Suns lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets.

Now Ishbia has overseen a coaching change and it remains to be seen how aggressive the front office will be in reshaping the roster. The assumption is that Booker — a three-time All-Star who averaged nearly 36 points per game in a brilliant postseason performance — and Durant will be back.

The rest of the roster is in flux.

The biggest questions surround Paul and former No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton, who were both out with injuries by the end of the playoffs.

The 38-year-old Paul was solid when he was on the court for the Suns this season, but his body gave out again in the playoffs and he missed the final four games with a strained left groin. He’s under contract for next season with a partially guaranteed deal.

The 24-year-old Ayton was ineffective in the team’s second-round series against the Nuggets, averaging 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds, which were both well below his season and career averages. He suffered a rib contusion in Game 5 and watched the final game of the season from the bench.

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