The Washington Wizards just committed a mercy killing. Dr. Kevorkian would be proud. Flip Saunders, the Wizards head basketball coach since April of 2009, has finally been fired by the owner Ted Leonsis. Don’t cry for Flip though. He signed a four-year, $18 million deal to coach the Wizards and now he’ll be paid without having to endure the abysmal product on the court.
A few weeks back I mocked Leonsis’ blog post where he said things were going as expected for the Wizards. I’m sure expectations may not have been that high, but 2-15 could not have been within the realm of possibilities even for the most astute of owners. Hence the inevitable firing.
Maybe it was a necessary move — the Wizards trailed the Philadelphia 76ers by twenty points in the first quarter last night — but I doubt the interim head coach Randy Wittman will get much more out of this team. Five of their top six scorers are shooting 40% or worse from the field. Their most talented player John Wall has been playing better of late but he still commits far too many turnovers and his jump shot is almost nonexistent.
The Wizards problems start at the top. Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards general manager, has assembled a bad team. I know that Ernie knows basketball — he played in the NBA for a decade and he served as the GM for the Knicks and the Bucks prior to his stint with the Wizards — but how can he remain in charge of basketball decisions any longer? This year’s draft choice Jan Vesely is such a bad shooter they’ve already hired a shooting coach for him. And the Wizards drafted him with the 6th pick in the draft!
Unfortunately for the Wizards, they don’t have many marketable players to trade. Their “captain” Andray Blatche would be on the first train out of town if the fans had their druthers but he’s in the second year of a five-year, $35 million contract thanks to Ernie. Nobody is going to want our doughy disaster. Still, I want somebody in charge who is going to try. And I’m not saying Ernie isn’t trying everything in his power to right the ship. I just have no faith in Ernie anymore. Flip has finally been fired, now Ted has to make the next logical move. Put somebody in place who is going to make better decisions. Put somebody in charge who will assemble a better basketball team. Until the Wizards do that, they’re going nowhere.