Kevin Durant-Suns Coaching Staff Disconnect Revealed After Sweep

Reports of cracks within the Phoenix Suns organization quickly surfaced after their disappointing first-round sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

According to Shams Charania and Doug Haller of The Athletic, there was a disconnect between Suns star Kevin Durant and Frank Vogel’s coaching staff which lingered throughout their tumultuous season that mercifully ended on Sunday night, April 28, on a 122-116 loss in Game 4.

Meanwhile, Durant, among the best scorers in NBA history, was not always happy with how he was used. Sources briefed on the matter told The Athletic that Durant never felt comfortable with his role in Phoenix’s offense alongside Booker and Beal this season. Those sources said Durant had persistent issues with the offense, feeling that he was being relegated to the corner far too often and not having the proper designs to play to his strengths as the offense was built around pick-and-rolls. At the same time, some teammates and people close to the organization believed Durant needed to voice his concerns more adamantly and directly with Vogel and his coaching staff.

Despite Durant’s reported discontent with his role, he still averaged 27.1 points, fifth in the league this season. His scoring dipped slightly to 26.8 points in four games against the Suns, but his efficiency jumped from 52.3% shooting in the regular season to 55.2% in the playoffs.

Kevin Young, the Suns’ offensive coordinator who held a close relationship with Devin Booker, is leaving the team to take on a head coaching job at BYU. Young was a holdover from Monty Williams’ staff.

The question now is whether Vogel gets another shot with a clean slate and hopefully one season with a healthy Suns’ Big 3 or they get a new head coach for the second straight season.

Defense Was the Suns’ No. 1 Problem

More than their offensive flaws, it was their defense which unraveled in the playoffs.

Their 123.2 defensive rating was the worst among all 16 playoff teams. The Timberwolves deep roster of two-way players overwhelmed them.

The Suns lost by an average of 15 points. Game 4 was the closest they came to beating the Timberwolves but Anthony Edwards took over in the second half.

“Their whole team created a lot of problems for us,” Vogel told reporters after Game 4. “The role players, the stars. Anthony Edwards is a special, special talent. And their bigs played really well.”

Vogel, who built a reputation as a defensive coach, failed to mold a Suns team built on three stars with highly-skilled offense but lacking in defense to his liking. He never had the chance with Beal’s injury and their lack of depth due to the financial constraints created by having 3 max stars.

Suns Eye to Add Point Guard

The Suns plan to build around their top 6 players — Booker, Durant, Bradley Beal, Grayson Allen, Jusuf Nurkić and Royce O’Neale (whom they are hoping to re-sign as a free agent), according to The Athletic.

Their top priority, according to The Athletic, will be a point guard who can organize their offense, which Booker and Beal failed to do with consistency.

Booker remains at the center of everything, and will be tasked with continuing to embrace an enhanced role as a leader and a return to his usual assassin self once he’s being set up by a proper point guard again — two things the team considers musts for the 2024-25 season. The Suns could also look to bring in additional locker room presence, which was filled late in the season by Isaiah Thomas and Thaddeus Young.

But it will be going to be a tough ask for James Jone’s front office as they will again be limited to filling out the roster with minimum veterans if they retain their expensive core.

 

 

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