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Washington Wizards fire coach Flip Saunders

Jan 24, 2012, 11:50 AM EDT

Flip Saunders AP

Ownership told Flip Saunders to play kids in Washington and that they understood losses would follow.

But when the Wizards started 2-15, without discipline, consistent effort or signs of improvement it was too much.

The Wizards have fired Saunders, first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. CSNWashington.com confirmed the move.

Current Wizards assistant and former Minnesota and Cleveland head coach Randy Wittman has been will take over for the rest of the season, the team announced. (Wizards fans, you need to hope that is it, he is not the answer. Remember what he did to a .500 Minnesota team when he took over for Dwane Casey?)

Players were told of the change after their 20-point loss to the Sixers last night — the kind of sad effort that typified why Saunders was let go. There were flashes of potential, like the win over Oklahoma City, but they became covered in a mountain of apathy from the players.

Saunders was a questionable fit in Washington, a good coach of veteran teams he struggled to reach the young players in Washington (he was 51-130 in a little over two seasons). When he was hired the Wizards had made the playoffs the year before and had veterans like Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas on the roster, but that blew up in an ugly way for reasons that were not Saunders fault. It became time to rebuild, and that’s not what Saunders does.   There was a real lack of focus and professionalism in the Wizards locker room and Saunders couldn’t seem to instill it. Put Saunders coaching a veteran team and he can still do the job, but not every coach is made for a rebuilding project.

Washington needs a builder. They have talent — John Wall should be an All-Star, guys like Nick Young and JaVale McGee have talent — but right now the team seems to coast through games unsure of themselves or what to do. There needs to be real accountability in the franchise, starting with big men McGee and Andray Blatch, who are mentally inconsistent night to night.

  1. illcomm - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    Flip is good. The young guys just have no leadership presence, just a bunch of selfish peeps in the locker room.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      Inmates ran the locker room, literally with Arenas. Flip is a good guy, start the Flip to University of Minnesota rumors in 3, 2, 1.

  2. khadeemw - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    ABOUT TIME. That is all.

  3. willardj - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    The Wizards have talent. Wall is virtually un-guardable in the open court. Young is a great shooter. McGee is the best shot blocker in the NBA. And yet with basically the same exact team they have regressed tremendously from last year.

    This team looks absolutely lost on offense. It’s really pathetic to watch. They’ll pass it to where they think their teammate will be and it will result in an easy turnover.

    That’s on the coach for not being able to have this team playing together.

  4. trbowman - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Flip is a solid coach. He had no chance.

    Did they actually expect to have a much better start than 2-15?

    Almost no talent on that roster compared to the rest of the league.

  5. goforthanddie - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    “Paging Larry Brown! Mr. Brown, Washington on the white courtesy phone!”

  6. trbowman - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    This team has such a low basketball IQ.

  7. icu84bs - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Uncaring ownership is the the greatest problem in this case. I can never see the team succeeding long term when they have a nimrod for an owner. I guess anything is possible but Ted (Washington’s owner) reminds me a lot of David Sterling (LA Clippers’ owner) who manages to screw up the team over and over.

    Check out the top franchises and the ownership are Basketball people first (LA Lakers, Dallas, Boston, Miami, Spurs, etc)

    Check out the bottom franchise and the ownership are Business people first (LA Clippers, Minny, Washington, Cleveland, etc)

    • goforthanddie - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      Yeah, because Leonsis didn’t buy the Capitals when they were blowful and turn them into a top-flight team. Yeah, Leonsis doesn’t have a clue or care. No wait, that’s you I just described.

      • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jan 24, 2012 at 10:32 PM

        yeah because getting lucky drafting ovechkin didn’t help at all

  8. sethb222 - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Jerry Sloan? A disciplinarian while an ability to develop players and get them to reach their potential. Not to mention their won’t be the financial constraints of a small market forcing the team to sell all of its players once their rookie contracts… Plus, fans will show on Sundays in DC…If you win!

  9. RyanFeet - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    How many Knick losses do we need to give Mike D’Antoni the boot? Anyone but him please!!!!

  10. rajbais - Jan 25, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    Flip deserved to be fired, but he’s not as bad of a coach as his Wizards record indicates.

    He’s better with blue collar players like in Minnesota and Detroit instead of the showboating, run-n-gun types like the ones in Washington. At the end of the day, he was given players that ruin coaching careers instead of win.

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