Report: Flip's Coming

Flip Saunders has agreed to become the next head coach of the Washington Wizards, an NBA executive told the Associated Press. The source told the AP that the team is expected to make a formal announcement some time next week, because the Wizards have one more game remaining at Boston tomorrow and President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld will be in New York for the Board of Governors meetings on Thursday.

Contacted on Tuesday morning, Grunfeld said that nothing had been finalized with Saunders. The rate this thing is going, there might be an hourly report/denial for the next couple of days. There is obviously smoke here. Let's admit that this is a fire already.

"Flip is a great coach," Caron Butler said about Saunders last night. "Very offensive-minded. You've seen some of the things he did in Minnesota and obviously Detroit."

By Michael Lee |  April 14, 2009; 12:18 PM ET
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Will there be a drawing to determine who gets the higher pick (Clippers or Wizards) if neither team gets a top 3 pick?

If so, when?

In 2006 and 2008 the drawing took place the weekend after the season ended and, in 2006 at least, it was televised.

Any info, Michael?

Posted by: read2 | April 14, 2009 12:34 PM

CSN reported last night that they had called Sam Cassell about Saunders and Sam told them Flip was an "offensive genius."

Posted by: Lisa_R | April 14, 2009 12:36 PM

I guess this means another high scoring team assuming Arenas returns that plays no D. Saunders is a very good NBA coach, but don't think he'll get any more out of this team than Eddie Jordan. Assuming Agent Zero is healthy next year and the team adds a high 1st round draft pick or trade for a veteran, this is still a 40-45 win team that will finish 5th or 6th in the Eastern conference & get bounced from the playoffs in the 1st round. Avery Johnson would have been a better pick, but EG needed to cater to the desires of Arenas who would have clashed with Johnson.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 14, 2009 12:41 PM

And here’s what Flip is inheriting from Taps from the regular players:

PER (15 is equal to the NBA average):

Jamison – 20.6
Butler – 18.3
McGee – 16.9
Blatche – 15.0
Songaila – 13.8
Young – 13.0
McGuire 10.9
Critterton – 10.2
Dixon – 9.8
James – 9.7

Points Per 40 Minutes:

Jamison – 23.2
Butler – 21.1
Young – 19.3
McGee – 16.8
Songaila – 14.9

Rebounds Per 40 Minutes:

McGee – 10.4
Jamison – 9.3
Blatche – 8.9
McGuire 8.3
Butler 6.3
Songaila – 5.9

What stands out are McGee’s numbers, which are excellent considering his limited and inconsistent playing time. What a lost opportunity to further develop this rook in a losing season so Flip would have had more to work with.

The second thing that stands out is that Blatche and Young need to get much better on an overall basis if the Wiz are to advance in the playoffs next year. Another lost opportunity for development.

The third thing that stands out is the weakness in the guard position. Even if Arenas and Young are major players next year, the return of Stevenson is not sufficient to get the Wiz over the hump. They need to orchestrate a trade for a quality #2 starter.

Finally, defense will be a “project” in Wizland as long as Arenas and Jamison are the star players.

Let’s see how Flip and EG address the “win now” mantra.

Posted by: Izman | April 14, 2009 12:53 PM

A good hire. Now just bring back the red, white and blue uniforms for next season!

Posted by: bryc3 | April 14, 2009 12:59 PM

If the Clips and Wizards remain tied -- they split the 2d and 3d worst record and the combined lottery balls. There is no drawing or tie breaker for this. Mike Lee commented on this a few days ago -- I believe.

Posted by: Chad32 | April 14, 2009 1:04 PM

read2 - I'm not sure about the post lottery tiebreaker procedure. Interesting question, let me know if you find out (I bet it's the same as playoff seeding tiebreakers).

As for the lottery, it's on May 19th, and will surely be on TV.

Posted by: GshawnJohnson | April 14, 2009 1:08 PM

Flip would not have been my first choice but I understand why the organization picked him. "IF" healthy next year this will be a high scoring team that plays a lot of one on one and little defense. It will put fans in the seats and money in the pockets of the owner.

The big question is....did Flip ask the old man will he exceed the luxury cap to sign a high first round draft pick?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 14, 2009 1:12 PM

The answer seems to be that there will be a drawing at the NBA offices a few days after the season ends to determine post-lottery (1,2,3 pick) draft position.

See this article from last year as an example.

Chad32 - This is different than the tie-breaker for ping-pong balls.

The drawing will determine how far we can drop - to either the 5th or 6th pick.

Michael Lee should be looking into this soon. In 2006 the drawing was televised. Not sure about last year.

Posted by: read2 | April 14, 2009 1:36 PM

Flip will do fine, as will the Wizards, barring injuries. I don't understand the doom and gloom. Again, barring injuries, the Wiz will at least be in the top 4 in the east. Also, don't be surprised to see them playing much better defense next year.

Now, the lottery. . . Wouldn't it be something to get Griffin. Don't worry, Abe would open the checkbook to keep him. He wants to win it all and, besides, it would pay off economically by putting people in the seats.

Posted by: 7snider7 | April 14, 2009 1:38 PM

I dont understand the guys who think that Flip is not better than Eddie Jordan.

Eddie Jordans best season ever was 45 wins. Flip Saunders AVERAGES 50 wins a season.

The PERs and everything else will take care of itself. If Flip stops playing small ball (which he will) and gets the Big 3 good shots (as opposed to the terrible shots they have been taking all season) then all the stats will go up.

And players do improve. Look at where Brendan Haywood is now compared to where he was even 2 years ago where half the folks here wanted Etan Thomas to start over him. This squad will be at the top of the Eastern Conference perhaps as soon as next year.

Posted by: UltimateFootballNetwork | April 14, 2009 1:49 PM

I like the choice of FS...he is a disciplined offensive coach and emphasises zone defense which is perfect for the personnel on this team.
Man on man, works with speedy physical players, which we do not have.
We have talented skilled players, plenty of height, if not physical presence, and variations of a zone defense are perfect.
It will also signal the complete and utter demise of the so called "PRINCETON" snooze offense, which those that champion the not missed EJ for implementing.
Tough coaches are passe', these players need to be loved and cajoled.
GA is a major talent, and for those who question that, just look at the difference in electricity, demeanor and results for just the 2 games that GA played.
This is not rocket science...Phil Jackson has been winning with by far the best players, to ever play the game. His team has more talent on the bench than most have starting. Pop was nothing until Duncan, Robinson and now Parker. Boston sucked until Garnett arrived, and are mediocre without him.
This is a players league, and FS is a players coach...perfect. Now let's get healthy and lucky, and the fun will return.

Posted by: mricklen | April 14, 2009 2:04 PM

In reference to the Draft lottery -- if the Wizards and Clippers tie -- they essentially split the odds between 2 and 3 down the middle.

Normally the #2 has a 19.9 chance of landing the #1 overall and the #3 has a 15.6 percent chance of landing #1 overall.

In this case there's an extra ball which one team will get on the basis of a random selection.

e.g. one team has a 17.8 percent chance of landing the #1 the other has a 17.7 percent chance of landing the #1 overall.

As consolation the team with the 17.7 percentage picks before the team with the 17.8 percent chance in the second round.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 2:12 PM

If the wiz trade the pick with a package for etan blatche or songaila, we might be able to pick up somebody solid like a J.R smith and a solid reliable center,or even a sub potential-soon to become allstar... interesting offseason... hope EG makes some clever moves, but definetly keep Nick Young and Javale Mcgee and D Mac, those guys will be good for the future..

Posted by: hawksbest08 | April 14, 2009 2:31 PM

yo 7snider 7 totally agree with you about the wiz playing better defense... anyways the wizards just need to play better team defense and not just rely on Haywood to lead the crop.. If you look at the way the cavs Defense they play excellent close defense, and have excellent rotations... The WIZ dont have to be the best defensive team just make the other team Take Tough Shots, and excute at the end of games which the A "HEALTHY WIZARDS TEAM DOES" (Agent 0) ...." " well at least what they were good at before all the injuries..

Posted by: hawksbest08 | April 14, 2009 2:37 PM

"Avery Johnson would have been a better pick..."

I don't know who'd be better between Avery and Flip, it's almost like a "pick the lesser of two evils" situation.

Avery would've been good because he would've held players like Gilbert, Young, McGee, and Blatche accountable, and would've instilled some sort of defensive philosophy in these boys. He would've also not play to the strengths to the players currently on the roster. I believe that was a big part of his failure in Dallas - his unwillingness to adjust to the strength of his players.

This is where Flip Saunders comes in.

I believe that Saunders won't try and turn the Wizards into something they're not - a defensive minded first team. I'm well aware of the correlation between stong defensive teams and winning titles, but to quote Arenas: "Sometimes, you are who you are." Not to confuse Arenas with Neitche, but I think he's dead on with this one. It seems that coaches have more success when you adapt to your players instead of forcing your players to adapt to you and their philosophy.

When taking into account of the best available coaches, Flip Saunders was the best available, and the right choice. As always I'm optimistic about next year.

Posted by: RedDMV | April 14, 2009 2:43 PM

They'll be at the top IF the point guard distributes the ball and gets everyone involved in the offense like GIL did last week. But if he reverts to the immature AGENT ZERO of old that won't happen. So my poll vote went to corralling GILBERT ARENAS.

And if it turns out he can't play on that knee, JAVARIS CRITTENTON is the only true PG left on the roster at this point. He will be the man eventually but not next year. So what's out there in the way of a trade/draft pick? We gotta' take BLAKE GRIFFIN if available, and I think HAYWOOD needs a back-up - THABEET, provided he comes out. If GILBERT needs backup also there will be trouble in "ZARDS-ville next year with those contracts choking our every move.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 14, 2009 3:27 PM

JPRS and others responding to read2 and my question, thanks, but we understand how the lottery works :)

The numbers you are sharing only apply to the actual lottery (which determines the top 3 picks). Picks 4-14 are determined by inverse order in the standing, of the teams that were not drawn for a top 3 pick.

Posted by: GshawnJohnson | April 14, 2009 3:33 PM

You win in the NBA with talent and guys that can make baskets no matter how hard the other team tries to stop them in the 4th quarter.

Think for a second last night's game would have slipped away with a healthy Areans?

The Wiz are in a position with James and Thomas's contracts to deal, a really high Number one pick, some young and promising talent, and some assorted veterans like Songaila, or Stevenson to wheel and deal with.

If Grufeld doesn't get the top pick in the Lottery I think he might be inclined to deal.

Saunders will have a somewhat remodeled roster to work with come next training camp.

This could be an interesting summer to watch Ernie work.

Posted by: flohrtv | April 14, 2009 3:36 PM

Thanks for the help Gshawn. My question has nothing to do with how many ping pong balls we get.

If neither the Clippers nor the Wizards get a top 3 pick, then their draft order will be determined by record. Washington and the Clippers have the same record.

In years past, the NBA has conducted a drawing the weekend after the regular season ends as a tiebreaker for teams with the same record. This could even include playoff teams.

I'm wondering when that drawing will occur this year and whether it will be televised.

It may be the same drawing that determines who gets the extra ping pong ball. I don't know.

Posted by: read2 | April 14, 2009 3:50 PM

Assuming Agent Zero is healthy next year and the team adds a high 1st round draft pick or trade for a veteran, this is still a 40-45 win team that will finish 5th or 6th in the Eastern conference & get bounced from the playoffs in the 1st round. Avery Johnson would have been a better pick, but EG needed to cater to the desires of Arenas who would have clashed with Johnson.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 14, 2009 12:41 PM


Posted by: Barno1 | April 14, 2009 4:06 PM

Assuming Agent Zero is healthy next year and the team adds a high 1st round draft pick or trade for a veteran, this is still a 40-45 win team that will finish 5th or 6th in the Eastern conference & get bounced from the playoffs in the 1st round. Avery Johnson would have been a better pick, but EG needed to cater to the desires of Arenas who would have clashed with Johnson.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 14, 2009 12:41 PM

Yeah I read Wilbon too. Were you going to plagiarize the whole thing for us? Do you have any thoughts of your own on this matter? Or is that your thing, you come onto the blog and read some passage written by someone else and pawn it off as your own?

Posted by: Barno1 | April 14, 2009 4:08 PM

Do not understand the theory that the Wiz, if healthy, will be 5th or 6th in the East. The last time the Wiz were healthy they were 1st in the East, prior to the 07 all star break. And we've added Nick Young, Dominic McGuire, JaVale McGee, and Mike Crittenton since then. There is no reason to think we can't be tops in the East once again, if healthy.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 14, 2009 4:11 PM


The draft lottery order will be selected May 19th. Last year they televised it on NBA TV; not sure if other channels will be covering it this year.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 4:12 PM

"The last time the Wiz were healthy they were 1st in the East, prior to the 07 all star break."

(A) That was 2 and 1/2 years ago.

(B) What happens before the all-star break is irrelevant in the NBA big picture of the NBA season.

(C) The East has gotten much better since then.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 14, 2009 4:35 PM

The Bullets Suck! They play no D and have all this $ tied up with one guy with a bum knee and another that that plays absolutley no defense! I'm glad to see Flip getting paid though, they pay those jokers to put on the uniform, they should take care of the coach too -- I'm sure he has kids he needs to take care of!

Posted by: jwing14 | April 14, 2009 4:39 PM


We can agree on points A and C, but on point B I have to disagree that the first half of a season is irrelevant. Those wins and losses don't disappear in the 2nd half of the year, they are still a part of your record. And the Wiz are surely able to duplicate that success if ever fully healthy again (next year).

Posted by: Barno1 | April 14, 2009 4:41 PM

I didn't say the first half of the season was irrelevant. I said:

What happens before the all-star break is irrelevant in the NBA big picture of the NBA season.

...and it is. The only time it matters what position a team is in is on the last day of the season. Nothing else matters.

The Suns were in the top 5 in the West at one point prior to the All-Star break. The Pistons were in the top five of the East at one point during the first half of this season. What's that worth now that the season is over? Absolutely nothing.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 14, 2009 4:50 PM

Regarding "C" -- the East isn't really THAT much better than it was 3 years ago. Boston has been great and could pull it off again this year, but they're battling father time. Basically they made a one year wager. Otherwise Cleveland and Orlando have switched places with Detroit and Miami from three years ago. Several other teams are good too, but not dominant.

More than anything I think the West has just gotten weaker (overlooking the Lakers and some promising franchises like Portland, OKC, and Memphis).

The Wizards aren't going to be the favorite -- but they have more depth than they had three years ago and some genuine role players. They'll need to get lucky, but they could make a run if the stars line up right.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 6:13 PM

Who said anything about "dominant"? No one.

There are more good teams in the East now than there were 3 years ago. Even the teams in the bottom of the playoff bracket (except for Detroit, which is backsliding) are better than they were then. And the teams at the top are stronger than they were then. The conference as a whole is stronger in the top 8 or 9 than it was three years ago. That's not even really arguable.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 14, 2009 6:27 PM


Why is it that the rest of the Eastern Conference got better but the Wizards (minus health) didnt?

The last time the Wizards were healthy, Brendan Haywood was a borderline starter, Caron Butler was not nearly as good as he is now and Dixon, Ruffin and Hayes were the depth.

I am not certain why the team that was 1st in the East when healthy hasnt gotten better as well. We need to see the whole squad before we know, but beating Cleveland didnt seem like any sort of mirage to me.

Give Blatche, Young, McGuire and McGee another season or two to grow and imagine how deep and talented this team will be if healthy. And now with one of the winningest coaches in NBA history?

Trust in Ernie.

Posted by: UltimateFootballNetwork | April 14, 2009 7:08 PM


Posted by: Barno1 | April 14, 2009 7:32 PM

The records are better now in the East than they were in 2005-2006 -- like I said though, I think this has more to do with the West getting weaker than it does with a real change in overall quality of the Eastern Conference (e.g. Sacramento alone gifted 29 wins to Eastern Conference teams against 1 loss this year).

2006 Eastern Conference Playoffs
1. Detroit. -- Older, much worse.
2. Miami Heat. -- Front court minus Shaq and Mourning isn't as dominant. Still good, no longer elite.
3. Cleveland -- Improved from very good to Elite.
4. New Jersey Nets. Better? No way.
5. Washington Wizards . . .
6. Indiana Pacers. Much Worse.
7. Bulls. Different faces, same uniforms, same record.
8. Milwaukee Bucks. Worse.

The Hawks, Celtics, and Orlando have improved significantly from 2005-2006. The Celtics are great, but they're getting old fast. How much longer are Garnett and Allen playing at an elite level?

Normally, I agree with you kalo_rama -- I don't look at 2009-2010 though and see the Wizards having lost a ton of ground. In some cases teams that were worse than the Wizards in 2005-2006 have passed them on the way up; in other cases teams that were better than the Wizards in 2005-2006 look like they could end up passing them on the way down next season.

The only team that was better than them in 2005-2006 that's really improved is Cleveland. Miami still has a quality team -- they're dangerous. I don't think they're on the same level as the 2005-2006 team.

Of course this is all speculation. Who knows how things shake out in the off-season or what happens with respect to injuries. Things change.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 7:35 PM

Ok I like the hiring of Flip Saunders. I'm glad we got a proven guy who has been a successful head coach in the league. I think his style will be a very good fit for our roster, pick and rolls, attack the basket, zone D. I think he will have the players respect, and I think they'll enjoy playing for him. And I do think he's a better fit than Avery Johnson.

Now... next on my wish list:

PLEASE I hope we get Blake Griffin. The guy has all the tools physically and mentally to be a franchise player. Talent wise he reminds me of Chris Webber, with the demeanor more of Tim Duncan. If we get him this horrid season we just went through will be well worth it.

#2 Bring back Larry Hughes. One of my favorite players while here, solid all around game, and we know he meshes well with Gil in the backcourt. Hughes at the 2 with DeShawn and Nick as defense/offense subs and our backcourt is looking good. We supposedly had a deal in place to deal Etan and Antonio for him, postponed due to his injury, then we fell apart so there was no need for the move. Then we tried to get him again at the trade deadline, I assume a move looking to next season, but Chicago sent him to NY instead. I'm thinking something like Etan, James, Pecherov for Hughes would be a pretty good deal.

#3 Bring back our Red White and Blue team colors. Seriously. It proved a great move for the Caps. Are you really going to tell me the Wizards wouldn't love the increase in merchandise sales?? We need a new beginning and new uniforms would help.

Haywood, Jamison, Butler, Hughes, Arenas

McGee, Griffin, Blatche, Songaila, McGuire, Young, Stevenson, Dixon, Crittenton

Posted by: Darnell1 | April 14, 2009 8:30 PM

I hope Sanders can help this team get away from taking those long jumpers all game long and work the ball inside and use Haywood and McGee in pick and rolls which this years team doesn't seem to know how to execute. WE have to also play better defense next year or its going to be another long season. Game after game we watched as opposing teams got uncontested layups and dunks all game long. Sanders has a lot of work to do with this team.

Posted by: mdondon300 | April 14, 2009 8:48 PM

Flip is an excellent coach however if he turns the WIZ into a Detroit like style of play FANS in this area will be bored stiff. Is he capable of dircting a fast paced game??

Posted by: kcandlc | April 15, 2009 12:19 AM

IMHO, some people have mentioned that if we don't get Griffin pick (1 overall), we should deal the pick. However, if we get the two, I would be more than happy with Ricky Rubio, that kid is some kind of nasty. Oh, and if we end up with Thabeet...ugh.

Posted by: concool98 | April 15, 2009 4:06 AM

I think Flip is a good pick. He has a lot of young talent to work with and 3 All stars. I like what I have seen from McGee and McGuire this year. Songaila has also improved and Haywood is looking strong. If we can get Griffin, the wiz could be unstoppable next year.

Thank god the gold uniforms are being retired. Those things were friggin' ugly! Its time to bring back the 1978 red white and blue Bullets uniforms.

Posted by: wiz_fan | April 15, 2009 6:02 AM

#1 offseason requirement: Get rid of ET
#2 get rid of ET
#3 get rid of ET
#4 put some major muscle on AB and JM and get them to multiple big-man camps
#5 find a couple of long range shooters for the end of the bench (not Pech or Juan)
#6 if we cant draft one of the top 3 big men, draft the best 2 or combo guard (maybe Lawson from UNC)

Posted by: oddjob1 | April 15, 2009 7:11 AM

Just the fact that a coach with the resume' of FS wants to come and coach the Wiz should tell us something about the potential of this team. A few year ago we would not have gotten a second look from a coach like him.

A good zone defensive philisophy along with a healthy BTH will improve this teams defensive scoring avg.

Posted by: kfrazec | April 15, 2009 7:40 AM

I don't understand the lottery system. Why don't the teams with the worst records get the top picks? Does everything have to be a gamble to sell tickets, or better an already decent team? Who implemented such an senseless lottery draft? Yes, maybe I'd be writing something different if I wasn't one of those bottom feeders, but I am a Wizards fan, and want justice! Changing the name of the team, didn't change the curse. We need all the help we can get!

Posted by: coastallp74 | April 15, 2009 7:45 AM

Hey Darnell

If Isiah were still in Ny they might make the deal you offered.

IF we think Hughes is the answer (and I am not all that sure) it would probably require Blatche, ET's contract and our 2nd rounder

Posted by: khrabb | April 15, 2009 9:35 AM

khrabb ... that's fine with me, we won't keep our 2nd rounder anyway probably like last season. If we get Griffin, Blatche becomes expendible.

SG on my radar are Hughes, Crawford, Hamilton and Redd. Hughes is my 1st choice though. Etan and James contracts expire the same time as Hughes, and Hughes hasn't done that well in NY so they are probably willing to move him.

Posted by: Darnell1 | April 15, 2009 11:41 AM

If we deal with NY, 2 players we actually reportedly tried to get at the deadline were Hughes from Chicago and Jeffries from NY. These moves would have been made by Grunfeld with an eye to next season, and possibly with the consent of Saunders (who I think has been in place since he came in as a consultant in training camp).

These are 2 vets that we know play hard and mesh well with our current core. These are both guys that play defense, and have the length that are well utilized in a Flip style of zone D.

Etan, Blatche, James, Pech, 2nd round pick for Hughes and JJ.

Deal works salary wise. Improves the veteran presence of our team. If we get Griffin, Blatche should be moved to streamline our rotation, and just to rid ourselves of the knucklehead factor and poor work ethic of Blatche.

Hughes is the starting 2 we need. JJ is a vet who comes off the bench and plays D with the versatility to defend multiple positions and rebound.

Haywood, Jamison, Butler, Hughes, Arenas

McGee, Griffin, Songaila, Jeffries, McGuire, Young, Stevenson, Dixon, Crittenton

THAT is a solid roster...

A heck of a starting 5. Solid vet role players off the bench... Songaila, Jeffries, Stevenson, Dixon. A real nice young foundation for the future... McGee, Griffin, McGuire, Young, Crittenton.

Posted by: Darnell1 | April 15, 2009 2:51 PM

Crawford would be a terrible addition to this team. He has not shown that he can play off of anyone. He needs the ball in his hands to be effective.

Khrabb's suggested trade does not work with the salary cap. Mike James would probably need to be included.(No real loss)

Posted by: SportzWiz | April 15, 2009 3:31 PM

I like Hughes, but I really don't see the reason NY would deal his expiring deal for a batch of contracts that expire at the same time.

Only if he's become such a malcontent that they want him out of town. Etan has shown that he can quietly collect a check and not make waves. So for a team wanting an expiring deal and no problems he seems to have the experience needed.

That's why I think Detroit becomes a more likely trading partner. A deal involving James' or Etan's contracts could help them clear cap space in 2010. Dumars would likely gamble on either Blatche or Young in a package and let Ernie keep the number one this year.

Might take another spare part and a future draft pick to make the package go down. But for a guy as steady as Rip, it could be a steal. It's interesting because Rip's been commenting on the fact that it was more the Detroit players' fault then Flip's that Flip's tenure didn't work out there.

Sounds like a guy that's trying to make nice with his old coach. Maybe the wheels are already turning there.

I think Ernie waits to see how the lottery pans out before he decides which direction to go. We get Griffin, he picks him and keeps him. 2-6 and the trade possibilities really start to churn. Somebody's falling in love with Rubio, that could be the Rapters with their luck with Euro's.

Bosh would be a gamble because Ernie would have to offer max money to keep him. But if the Wiz aren't in position to draft Griffin, putting together a package including the the Wizard's lottery pick might not be a bad deal for both teams.

Posted by: flohrtv | April 15, 2009 6:00 PM

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