Monty Williams says his wife’s health was priority, almost keeping him from taking the Pistons job

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2023 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns

2023 NBA Playoffs – Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns

From the outside, Monty Williams’ decision to coach the Detroit Pistons next season was made by the Brinks truck they backed up to his house — six years, a reported $78.5 million.

For Williams, it was far more personal and tied to his wife Lisa’s diagnosis with breast cancer, something he opened up about in his introductory press conference.

Williams said he planned to take a season off care for his wife and be with his son Elijah, one of the top high school players in his class. However, positive news on Lisa’s diagnosis came early, which was when Pistons GM Troy Weavad circled back to talk to Williams after he had turned them down previously.

“After we got the good news about Lisa, I was with my kid at a tryout when I got a text from Troy out of the blue,” Williams said, via the Associated Press. “I thought everything was totally off the table, but things went quickly after that.”

Williams said he and his wife talked about whether to go public with this, but they decided the message of early testing was important.

“The reason that I brought it up is not to talk about my family, but to make it more of an emphasis that women need early detection testing,” Williams said. “We had genetic testing done and then scan after scan after scan and then we found it early, and that may have saved my wife’s life.

“It can save others.”

Williams takes over a 17-win team with the worst record in the NBA last season, but one with an interesting core that includes Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, and the N. 5 pick in this June’s draft. That sounds similar to his arrival in Phoenix taking over a 19-win team but one with Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges, among others. He has driven this road before.

“You can see the talent of this group and you see the size, but what I’m really impressed with is the people,” Williams said. “When I talk to them, they look me in the eye, which is impressive. When I text them, they get right back to me. There’s a hunger and a desire there.”

Williams was brought in to help build a winning culture in Detroit that could lift this young core. That’s going to be a process. But it wasn’t one Williams was willing to take on until he was sure his family was in a good space.

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