Flip Out In Washington, Wittman In

An NBA source confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the Washington Wizards have fired Flip Saunders as coach, and are expected to name assistant Randy Wittman as interim coach for the remainder of the season.

The Wizards, who have the NBA’s worst record at 2-15, were coming off another desultory performance Monday, one in which they trailed the 76ers by 30 points at halftime and wound up losing by 20. That has been the norm for Washington much of this season, surrounding occasional performances like last week’s win over Oklahoma City in which the team played with passion and purpose. Only recently had second-year guard John Wall, around whom the Wizards hope to build a contending team, begun playing with much fire. Saunders never was able to get players like Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee to perform consistently.

Saunders was 51-130 in his two-plus seasons in Washington.

Saunders was in the third year of a four-year deal that paid him approximately $4 million per season. He was hired in 2009 after Washington had gone 19-63 the previous season, during which time the Wizards had fired their previous coach, Eddie Jordan.

At the time, Saunders was joining a veteran team that had made the playoffs in four of the previous five seasons around a core group featuring Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. But Arenas’ role in an incident in December of 2009 in which he brought guns into the Wizards’ locker room as part of a confrontation with guard Javaris Crittenton resulted in Arenas being suspended by NBA Commissioner David Stern in January of 2010 without pay for the remainder of the season. The Wizards cratered again, going 26-56, and made the decision to blow up the old roster and start anew after winning the Draft lottery in 2010 and selecting Wall with the first overall pick.

Washington traded Arenas in December of 2010 to Orlando in a deal that brought forward Rashard Lewis from the Magic. In early 2010, the Wizards sent Butler and Haywood to Dallas and Jamison to Cleveland. The Wizards quickly got much younger, but Saunders failed to get his team to play hard consistently through last season and the start of this season.

Yahoo! Sports first reported Saunders’ firing.

20 Comments

  1. charles says:

    Flip had it too good in Minnesota. A GM who had his back 100% no matter what. Life doesn’t work like that elsewhere and it turns out Flip is not good when times get tough.

  2. skrutz says:

    New GM, please. No team should ever go this long being this bad, and think that things are still fine higher-up.

    I believe the main issue is, however, the name. Wizards?!? I think it’s impossible to have a winning record with that name.

  3. Andrew says:

    I would also like to add Grunfeld has done a pronominal job since Poland died. This team is cheap, athletic, big, and young. He has gotten some talented players for us, its up to the players and coaching staff to do their jobs.

  4. Sam Robinson says:

    No one could possibly imporve this team this year but I do beileve they need a fresh coach. Good Luck Wittman. The wizards should have done this about a year ago too much baggage with Flip.

  5. kobe246 says:

    Mike Brown needs to be the next coach to go. He has no offensive recipe besides playing through kobe and its obviously going to take a toll on kobe come playoffs (that’s if they even make it)

  6. FreeDubay says:

    Timberrwolves East.

  7. andy says:

    about time flip

  8. Kenny says:

    Correction: Butler and Haywood traded to Dallas (Feb. 10, during 09/10 season) before Arenas was sent to Orlando (Dec. 10, during 10/11 season).

  9. Clint says:

    I believe that it was a good idea to fire Flip, but what I don’t understand is that it was not up to Flip when they traded away the talent that they had, they went from a decent team to a completely new and young team. Granted that is Flip’s job to get them comfortable and play together, there was a lot of mistakes made my the GM with the trades. plus look at the players, it is not like Flip has much talent to work with.

  10. Dave says:

    Congratulations to Flip, getting away from the mess that Ernie D has created with boneheaded trades and pathetic drafting. Who really expected anything from this team, not me. To rebuild the Wizards need a new GM. How can you trade Butler, Haywood and Jameson and get nothing in return? Sure you want to rebuild ,but why give away proven players without getting draft picks or younger talent. No one is on the team as a result of those trades. Drafting has been just as boneheaded. Wall has talent, but he is one of the worst shooters in the league at guard. Last years number 5 pick. Anyone know who he is? Don’t expect to hear much about him any time soon.No point in going to see this team any more. Used to be fun to see a competitive team play some great games against Celtics, Lakers etc.

  11. Ken Fenty says:

    Hahaha.. The Gizzards lose another coach to their constant procrastination.. This is the only team that has been bad for such a long long time.. It ain’t the coach.. It is the people who think they are choosing talent.. You reap what you sew..

  12. Matt says:

    I think DA messed up the timeline of events here. Butler, Haywood, and Jamison were traded during the 09-10 season, before the drafting of Wall (after 09-10) and the trade of Arenas (during 10-11).

  13. WizKid says:

    It’s about time. I have been wanting this for a 1 1/2 years!!!! He is not a good coach when it come so young players. He should have been fired when the Vets were traded!! We need a coach that is confrontational. This guy avoids unpleasant situations!! And the past two years have been unpleasant!!

  14. Awed says:

    Hire Charles Barkley. Then it will be a fun season!!! This will also give him a chance to get a ring :)

  15. bob says:

    flip sanders did a horrible job and deserves to be coaching a tush just kidding hes awsowme and the Washington staff are idiots 4 firing him

  16. some dude says:

    No suprises here!! Just wished they would have made this move during the off season…

  17. Karlo Garcia says:

    All the Washington Wizards ever done was go backward instead of forwards.

  18. somebody says:

    Not surprised, but I do get amused by how owners expect their team could get better overnight(not exactly, you know what i mean) . Especially with such a young team. Of course, the head coach is the ultimate blame for the team’s ‘failure’, but i don’t see how the other staff and players themselves are not to be blamed.

    I guess they’ll have to find a coach that can actually manage this young roster. Getting them to finish their lunch might be the first step.

    • Chris Murphy says:

      Ultimately, the players are accountable for their effort, but when you have a team this this young, question is who put this team together. I don’t think the losing is totally at fault here beacause this is a young team. It is moreso the effort and the leadership that the coach provides. It also at the hands of the GM and onwership who decides who stays and who goes and who’s acquired. This goes back to the firing of Eddie Jordan and the free agent signing of Gilbert Arenas. At that time, I didn’t think it was a good idea to sign Gilbert, especially at that price. Then again the only viable free agents out there that year were Elton Brand and Emeka Okafor. The owner at the time was the late Abe Pollin. So this started own his watch. Flip didnt’ sign up for this, but this is the hand he was dealt. I had stories via Chris Webber on TNT when Flip was coach for Detroit in th semis against Cleveland awhile back. Cleveland was giving to Detroit. Webber said “I know whats going in the locker room right now, Flip is talking and no one is paying attention to him. He was fired after Cleveland beat them in the semis. So no, I dont think Flip was a good fit here, especially7 with goofy Arenas. It was a loose locker room when that veteran gruop were here, thus the “incident” Some coaches demand respect without asking for it. Phil Jackson, Larry Brown( who I think would be a good fit here, because he teaches), Gregg Pop, Avery Johnson, Mark Jackson. These are firm coaches. Oh, Doug Collins is another coach that comes to mind. Not Flip.