Raptors 97, Wizards 96

Oh, what a night. For Wizards fans, the night was in ruin the last 6 minutes, 30 seconds as the little team that couldn't figured out every possible way it could to blow a 13-point fourth-quarter lead. For me, my night was all shook up around the time I happened to scroll across the Internet to find that Yahoo! Sports was reporting that Flip Saunders and the Wizards had reached a verbal agreement on a four-year, $18-million contract.

I know Adrian Wojnarowski very well and I respect him as one of the best news reporters/columnists that covers the league. If there is a major NBA story that needs to be broken, Woj is the man who usually does it. I'm sure that he heard the information from some trusted sources that a deal had been reached -- and I am not going to attempt to discredit him. He might be right, but I could not find a soul to confirm it. That doesn't mean the story is wrong, because the Wizards could really just be trying to keep this under wraps until they are ready to make an announcement on their terms. As one person I spoke with last night said, "There is nothing to confirm."

"Nothing done or agreed upon," one source said. "Someone jumping the gun."

What I can tell you -- based on the conversations that I had last night and throughout the day yesterday -- is that a deal with Flip Saunders is inevitable. Saunders is the guy that Ernie Grunfeld has targeted for some time. Grunfeld made him an offer with the expectation that Saunders would agree in a week or so. And, with Grunfeld set to be in New York for the Board of Governors meetings on Thursday and Friday, I wouldn't be shocked if something is finalized by Wednesday.

As I reported earlier, the money is expected to be slightly less than the four-year, $20-million deal he signed with the Detroit Pistons in 2005. I can also tell you that Saunders is very interested in coaching the Wizards. There is very little chance that this courtship will end without Saunders becoming the next coach of this franchise.

As for that game? What on earth was that? When a team has 62 losses in a season, there are bound to be some stinkers, but that had to be one flaming-bag-of-cow-patty finish. How can a team get score 93 points in the first 43 minutes and get one field goal the rest of the game? The Raptors aren't a good defensive team (this squad gave up 115 points in three quarters to Indiana last week). Yes, Antawn Jamison was forced to leave the game with a twisted right ankle with 10 minutes, 39 seconds remaining, but when Jamison left the Wizards were only up by eight points. They had built the lead up to 13 in his absence.

But here is a run down of the Wizards final possessions after taking a 93-80 lead with 6:30 remaining. Darius Songaila had his shot blocked by Patrick O'Bryant and the Wizards had a shot clock violation, turnover. Juan Dixion had a steal and layup to give the Wizards a 95-92 lead with 2:51 remaining. Dixon had a bad pass, turnover. Caron Butler stepped out of bounds, turnover. Songaila had his shot blocked by O'Bryant again. Butler had his shot blocked by Shawn Marion. Brendan Haywood makes one of two free throws to give the Wizards a 96-92 lead with 26.8 seconds remaining.

Then, it happened -- the worst possible possession of the evening. Marion made a layup to bring Toronto within two points. Wizards interim Coach Ed Tapscott told his team to call a timeout on a made basket. Yet somehow the ball wound up in Dixon's hands. Dixon dribbled up the court, even as Tapscott was begging for a timeout.

Then as he got trapped near halfcourt, Dixon fired a pass that was intended for Haywood. Problem was, Haywood had stopped to head back to the bench for a timeout -- and the pass nearly hit Raptors Coach Jay Triano. It was Dixon's fourth turnover of the period and fifth of the game and makes you wonder why Javaris Crittenton didn't see the floor in the fourth quarter again, especially after a poor pass from Dixon nearly cost the Wizards the game in Toronto on Friday.

To top it all off, during the timeout after Dixon's last turnover on Monday, Tapscott told his team not to give up a three-pointer. So, you know exactly what happened next. Jose Calderon drove in and kicked out to Chris Bosh, who entered the game with just 10 made three-pointers all season. Bosh had enough time to wash his long dreads, dry them, and shake them good, before burying the decisive three-pointer with 9.3 seconds left.

"Dain bramage," Tapscott said afterward. "Brain damage. Dain bramage. We just brain locked. We made about every mistake you could make down the stretch."

So, when is Flip coming again? This season can't end soon enough.

By Michael Lee |  April 14, 2009; 12:21 AM ET
Previous: Wizards: No Saunders Deal Yet | Next: Report: Flip's Coming

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The backcourt still looks very shaky for next season. If Gilbert misses any games at all next year, there is no one I trust to run the show in his absence. Stevenson is a question mark after his back surgery, and Critt is still a young player.

Grunfeld will have to make a move to shore up the backcourt, but there are no NBA ready guards in the draft and free agency is not an option due to our cap situation. We will have to sign a veteran PG with our $1.8mio exception which is going to be tough considering that veteran PGs usually command mid-level salaries.

Posted by: twigmuffin | April 14, 2009 1:15 AM

Exactly Mike Lee, why in god's name was Juan Dixon on the floor? He not only had terrible turnovers but he took ill-advised 3-pointers -- most importantly, with about 3 minutes to go, a missed shot and offensive rebound by the Wizards -- pass goes to Juan and he fires up a 3-pointer with 18 or more seconds on the shot clock. That was just dumb basketball. Good riddance to Juan Dixon and Tapscott.

Posted by: Chad32 | April 14, 2009 1:26 AM

Why was Juan in the game?

So we could lose the game. When we get Blake Griffin, you'll all be praising Dixon for those 4 4th quarter turnovers.

Posted by: iamse7en | April 14, 2009 1:28 AM

As for shoring up our back court -- that will happen if the Wizards don't get the 1st overall pick. If the Wizards get the second pick, Rubio will be the pick -- that shores up the back court. If we drop below #2, we trade the pick with hope of acquiring back court help -- namely a SG that play defense and hit a three. Critt should have been on the floor in the 4th quarter -- especially since he, not Dixon, will be with this team next season.

Posted by: Chad32 | April 14, 2009 1:28 AM

Great write up Michael.

You'd have to ask Tapscott what he was thinking with Dixon, but my sense is that he wanted a veteran in there in the crunch.

As always Crittenton did a great job pushing the ball down the floor, but in less than 20 minutes he had four turnovers as well. Dixon had 7 assists on the night too, but man what a terrible finish. Hindsight is 20-20 but Crittenton might have given the team a better defensive mix in the end; he also might have had better luck beating the trap. Regardless it's done. Hopefully the Wizards show some fire on Wednesday and end this miserable season on a good note.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 1:30 AM

We are picking Rubio hoping he stays in Europe for one more season, he would not provide immediate help for next season. Yes we need to trade the pick if it is #3 or below, but how are we going to get under the salary cap if we are trading for a decent player?

Posted by: twigmuffin | April 14, 2009 1:37 AM

Rubio's buyout is a sticking point -- there's almost no way he plays next year since NBA teams can only contribute $500,000 to the $8.1 mill buyout in his current contract. He still probably gets drafted #2 if he enters the draft -- odds are though that he won't play in 2009-2010.

As far as the cap goes, the Wizards have two expiring contracts with Etan and Mike James that equal a little under $14 mill.; I could see someone like Blatche or another young player packaged with a draft pick(s) in order to sweeten the deal if the right deal is on the table. If the Wiz make a deal, I would guess that the Wizards are probably going to look at leaving some space as well so that they have a good chance at resigning Haywood after 2009-2010.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 2:05 AM

Yeah, having Dixon in the game seemed to me to be an almost white flag for the rest of the season. Dixon has no confidence whatsoever in his ball handling abilities or shot for that matter. Hence, he is extra deliberate and cautious with the ball except in pressure situations when he panics and screws up. I can handle bad plays a little more when they are done without hesitation and with some modicum of confidence. Dixon has lost his, unfortunately. Classy guy though!

There were some very nice individual plays this game by guys like McGuire, McGee and Haywood. The one reason I like the Flip pick is he is known as a stickler for execution on the offensive end. There is an extreme lack of consistent execution on this team and youth is getting to be a tired excuse! A little consistent execution on defense would be a nice change of pace as well.

Posted by: rphilli721 | April 14, 2009 4:09 AM

Absolutely stinko ending. Worst of the season?

Congrats, Wiz. Now you're getting the idea.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 14, 2009 7:39 AM

Why in the world did Michael Lee not mention in his story the tremendous effort by former GW star Pops Mensa-Bonsu: 9 points, 12 rebounds and 5 steals in 20 minutes! A local guy, and no acknowledgment. We GW fans have unfortunately become accustomed to this type of oversight by the Post sports staff.

Posted by: rtipton | April 14, 2009 8:46 AM

I'm not sure how to fell about Flip. The bad side is he has trouble taking good teams to the next level(2003 Timberwolves and Pistons). On the plus side is that he takes them there. Another plus is Flip will bring in the needed veteran players to build a good franchise. I guess you can say Flip is like the Don Nelson, or George Karl of the NBA, good enough to get you there but unable to capture the ring.

We'll see how the Wizards organize their team for the future. If Abe wants to win a ring, he'll have to take the cap hit and pay for the luxury tax. It's a small investment if they can go deep into the playoffs next season. And some of the signs the Wizards have done so far (not trading Jamison or Caron before the deadline) shows Abe might be willing to take the hit in order to bring on another talent (hopefully Griffin) to this team.

Posted by: rcnasa | April 14, 2009 9:01 AM

Anyone notice that Young looked competent on one-on-one D? That highlight of him blocking the postup jumper shot was nice to see. Someone posted before that all the one-on-one with Gil might be making him a bit better.

With decent D AND if he learns to hit wide-open 3's then he's our man. A rotation of Young and Dmac at the 2 spot gives the next coach a nice situation matchup option.

Posted by: cballer | April 14, 2009 9:10 AM

Who wins the tie breaker, the Wiz or the Kings?

Posted by: Sports_Guru | April 14, 2009 9:16 AM

I meant the Wiz or the Clippers, how does a tiebreaker work?

Posted by: Sports_Guru | April 14, 2009 9:19 AM

How do you as a veteran team make the type of mistakes that were displayed last night? Taps told them the right thing but somehow Juan Dixon and crew managed to totally blow it! More turnovers than a free giveaway at McDonalds.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 14, 2009 9:30 AM

I have been hollaring for MARK JACKSON as coach every chance I get. A gamble for sure but my gut tells me that MARK is the correct coach for this Team.

That being said, if the Wizs want FLIP, I am pulling for him to succeed. It also indicates that ERNIE knows this is an Offense first Team.

However, can FLIP mesh his coaching sytle to go 10-deep and win. A 6-7 man rotation like he likes is not the fit for this Team. FLIP must know that this Team as constructed with the current players will maximize in a 8-10 deep system.

And lastly, all you hard headed moronics that keep saying we have to turn this into a Defense first Team or blow it up like AVERY would do in order win a championship, are off base.

Essentially, what you are saying is, do what Boston did. It ain't going to happen. That dog ain't going to hunt. Get real in your analogy.

This Team ain't going to be busted up and it ain't gonna be Defense first.

What it can be is a prolific Offensive Scoring Team that finally knows how to play Defense.

FLIP SAUNDERS can accomplish this, but will he adjust his coaching style to do so. A 6-7 man rotation won't do it.

As some aptly put, AVERY JOHNSON spoiled the pursuits of a Team that was at the championship door under DON NELSON for the sake of Defense and when he was fired Dallas was not a better Team.

FLIP SAUNDERS could work, but AVERY is a longshot and a wish.

MARK JACKSON is the best option of the three, but this ORG does not appear ready to take the GAMBLE.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 14, 2009 9:45 AM

Sports_Guru,

The 2nd/3rd percentage are split down the middle in the event of a tie. There's a draw to determine who gets the one extra ball.

e.g. One team has a 17.8 percent chance the other has a 17.7 percent chance at the #1 overall.

The team that draws the lower odds at 17.7 picks before 17.8 in the second round as consolation.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 10:22 AM

This post shows how a professional reporter should disagree with another reporter's story, unlike Ivan's "Arenas hasn't been practicing" fiasco.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | April 14, 2009 10:38 AM

Lost in the shuffle is the impact of the knee jerk reaction trade of AD for Mike James early in the season. Juan Dixon would never have been on the flor in the 4th quarter if Daniels was on the team. Daniels is a true PG who rarely turned the ball over and was a good foul shooter. We lost at least 5-6 games in the 4th quarter where a competent PG would have kept the team organized and ensured leads weren't blown like last night.

As much as I like Dixon as a local guy who made it, he sealed his fate for next year with some of the worst decision making of any player on the team last night. Not only did he take a number of poor shots when he was ice cold, but his 4 TO's in the 4th quarter directly led to Toronto getting back in the game. If EG even considers re-signing him for next year, he should be fired on the spot.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 14, 2009 10:49 AM

Why in the world did Michael Lee not mention in his story the tremendous effort by former GW star Pops Mensa-Bonsu: 9 points, 12 rebounds and 5 steals in 20 minutes! A local guy, and no acknowledgment. We GW fans have unfortunately become accustomed to this type of oversight by the Post sports staff.


Posted by: rtipton | April 14, 2009 8:46 AM

You expect props for your boy for scoring 9 points in a meaningless game against the second worst team in the league? Really?

Posted by: bryc3 | April 14, 2009 11:02 AM

The talent is here to win if a proven NBA coach installs a system. Suanders is that kind of coach.

Eddie Jordan could win with these guys playing in his system, even in a year like last year when the team was stripped to the bone by injuries.

The differnce between this Wizards team and the Pistons is a Championship. The Pistons won a title and they figured Suanders had to adapt to them, they had no ability to bend or adapt to his coaching style and system.

If the Wizards aren't prepared to listen and learn from a new coach after collapases like last night they're hopeless.

I still look for either Rip Hamilton or Micheal Redd to be joining the Wiz in a trade. Both teams are looking to shed contracts for the summer of 2010. Another guy to watch would be Dunleavy off of the Pacers. I think Grunfeld can grab one of those guys without giving up this year's number one.

I don't see the Wizards picking Rubio and parking him in Europe with that pick. After this season Grunfeld's going to need to show the fans an instant turn around. Having a number 1 pick sitting in Europe doesn't fill the bill.

If the balls bounce the Wiz's way, they take Griffin. If they're at 2-4 it gets interesting. I still like Thabeet, Suanders likes to play some zone defenses. Haywood or Thabeet in the middle surrounded by 4 scorers could work in his system.

My gut tells me Ernie pulls another Jamison type deal and trades the pick in a package for a vet. If he goes that route Bosh could be a target. I think the Raptors know they are going to have trouble resigning him and may opt to get what they can before this draft.

Glad this train wreck of a season is almost done. The next couple of months could be interesting.

The Wiz could have done a whole lot worse then Suanders at Coach. Some on this site have been claiming no veteran coach would even consider the job.

Larry, I think Grunfeld ends up making a couple of deals where he packages players and shortens the bench and upgrades the top 7 to 8 players somewhat. Suanders won't have to end up going 10 deep if Ernie makes the deals I expect him to.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | April 14, 2009 11:05 AM

WIZFAN89,

Assuming that the Wizards do not dump any guaranteed contracts this up-coming season, Juan Dixon was gone as our one open slot to sign our draft pick.

This has been a foregone conclusion from way back. Where you been.

Did you also know that if we don't get rid of any contracts that three of these guaranteed guys go to the inactive list for next year?

If you've been keeping up, that's why you might have seen me say that Etan, Dson, and James, goes to the inactive list next year.

Our draft pick takes Juan's slot and it almost has to be Blake Griffin if we get the one.

If we donot get the one, anything could happen but Juan's slot is needed to upgrade the Team. Has nothing to do with JD's poor play, he's outa' here cause' we need his slot.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 14, 2009 11:09 AM

Well if I guess the Wizards want to be a very average baskeball team.

Flip Saunders has only proved he can't win the big games, even with a stacked roster.

The Wizards will never win a Championship with the roster they currently have, and the management they have.

Someone please kick Mr.Polin out of that wheel chair and make him land on his head so he will get some sense and sell the team to Leonsis.

PLEASE!

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | April 14, 2009 11:21 AM

wizfan89, The Daniels deal is a good deal for the Wiz. What I can't understand for the life of me is how a coach could sit Crit for Dixon in the 4th.

I like Dixon, but the guy won't be around next year.

Pops has gotten a lot stronger since he was on the Wizards bench. I'd stay he's got a chance to stick in the league this time around.

To underscore Larry's point about defense, all the Wiz had to do was make a couple of baskets down the stretch to seal that game. The offensive collapse blew that one.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | April 14, 2009 11:27 AM

Rubio is not the answer for this team. Even if he was as good as some ppl are making him out to be (and I highly doubt it), he 's not a defensive player. Don't we have enough offense on this team? Please. Enough with the Rubio talk unless we're picking him for trade bait. After the JCN debacle, folks might think twice about a young player who tears up foreign leagues. Same story for Darko, Bargnani, and a host of other young foreign players who stink or are marginal.

Posted by: original_mark | April 14, 2009 11:30 AM

GM,

I too agree that the talent here can do some things with the right system. 7-8 deep I can compromise with, but there are intangibles in players knowing that they can honestly contribute in the right 8-10 system.

I agree thats hard but with the right mix and philosophy with the current makeup it's very possible.

If we donot get the one, then I could also see Ernie trying to make some moves.

I'm stubborn on this and probably shortsighted, but assuming we make some moves, these would be my untouchables. GA, BH, AJ, CB, JC, JM, AB, & NY. The other six I would package for only a 3 players in return. Dominique, #7, would be my ace. He only gets moved to make a deal that we want, with major emphasis on the we.

A dream yes, but I would devise my strategy from that concept.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 14, 2009 11:46 AM

Blatche and/or Young have to go, and I think they'll need to go if we have any hope of shedding Etan's or M.James' contracts. I think you need to separate these two supreme knuckleheads for either of them to get serious about being good NBA players (which they aren't). I'd have no problem seeing both of them go.

Posted by: rbelleisle | April 14, 2009 12:06 PM

original_mark,

The other side of the coin is Tony Parker, the Gasol Bros, and Luis Scola. In hindsight Bargnani wasn't the best player in the 2006 draft. If the draft was held again today though he'd still probably be picked in the top 6. He's a quality starter with good upside.

I agree with you that Rubio could net good value in trade, and maybe that's the way the Wiz go if they're sitting at #2 and Rubio enters the draft.

It's not clear that he's going to be any better than Arenas, but he still looks like he could be a quality NBA player in a draft where there's only one clear immediate impact player.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 12:16 PM

How does the Clippers tiebreaker work if the Clippers and Washington do not get a top 3 pick. For instance, if Sacramento gets #1 and then OKC and MN jump ahead of us for the #2 and #3 picks.

Who gets the #4 pick?

Posted by: read2 | April 14, 2009 12:16 PM


Larry,

6 to 7 man rotation is a bit of a stretch, esp during an 82 game regular season. It would be more like 8 to 9 man rotation including playoffs. One other thing you would have to consider with Flip, he's runs an slowed down, half-court type system. Flip's team are not known for running so the players Eddie selected for his spread offense will more than likely be gone in the next couple of years and that includes the young guys.

But your point it right, some players won't recieve much playing time come next season. Because Flip will have back Gil, and Haywood, plus he'll recieve a draft pick and perhaps 1 or 2 free agents coming to this squad.

With all of the problems the Wizards had this seaon one problem tha

Posted by: rcnasa | April 14, 2009 12:25 PM


Larry,

6 to 7 man rotation is a bit of a stretch, esp during an 82 game regular season. It would be more like 8 to 9 man rotation including playoffs. One other thing you would have to consider with Flip, he's runs an slowed down, half-court type system. Flip's team are not known for running so the players Eddie selected for his spread offense will more than likely be gone in the next couple of years and that includes the young guys.

But your point it right, some players won't recieve much playing time come next season. Because Flip will have back Gil, and Haywood, plus he'll recieve a draft pick and perhaps 1 or 2 free agents coming to this squad.

With all of the problems the Wizards had this seaon one problem that truly stands out is an inside low post precesence. Some who can give you points on the inside along with the rebounding and defense would have this team.

Posted by: rcnasa | April 14, 2009 12:29 PM

read2,

The top 14 picks are all done based on the lottery.

e.g. A team in the 14 slot may have a chance at picks 1, 2, and 3 -- but if it doesn't get any of those three it's locked into the 14th pick. The 14th place team is not eligible for the 4 through 13 slots.

The 5th worst team is only eligible to compete for slots 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8.

In the case of a tie between the Wizards and Clippers -- I'm not 100 percent sure how picks get split after #1 overall, but my best guess is that they split the odds down the middle at every level.

What this means is that both teams have a 2 percent chance of landing the #6 pick overall, but neither can pick lower than #6. Both have a 98 percent chance of landing a pick that is #5 or higher.

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

read2,

Here's a simpler explanation:

If Sac takes #1, and OKC and MN jump ahead of the Clippers and the Wizards -- the Wizards and the Clippers each have about a 50-50 chance of landing the #4 spot (the odds are probably more like 50.1 to 49.9 depending on the random draw at the beginning, because there's an extra ball that the two will have to split).

Whoever doesn't land #4, gets the #5 pick.

If the Wizards and LAC tie at the end of the season, and OKC, MIN, and Sac all pick ahead of them -- the lowest that either team can pick would be #5. The 4th and 5th picks though would still be determined based on the lottery.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 1:06 PM

For all you Rubio bashers, I have one question? Did you actually see Rubio play against Team USA last summer? The young man clearly held his own against Chris Paul, D. Williams and JKidd. Further, I was quite impressed with his defense and his court vision. Rubio will have success in the NBA. Is he the best fit for the Wiz? Maybe not, but his ability was quite apparent during the Gold Medal game against Team USA (one of the best games I've ever had the pleasure of watching)...

Posted by: MEssex | April 14, 2009 1:22 PM

read2,

I think tiebreaker is only used to determine playoff seedings. There is no tiebreaker in draft. For the teams that do not win the lottery (i.e., the first 3 picks), they just flip a coin (or other means) to determine the order among the teams that are tied (and the sequence is reversed for the second round).

Of course, as stated, the teams that are tied share the same percentages for the lottery.

Posted by: sagaliba | April 14, 2009 1:22 PM

McGee did it again last night. He blocked one shot, and ready to run down court, only to see the opponent gets the offensive rebound and put-back. How hard is it to tell McGee to stay around until rebound is secured before trying to run down court? It shouldn't take a full season to learn that, should it?

Posted by: sagaliba | April 14, 2009 1:45 PM

Well first of all, Juan Dixon is a huge dissapointment, of all the big expectations this had to happen. Thats when you know something is wrong with Dixon when he just throws the ball away while Haywood isnt even looking, I mean thats a high schoo, sloppy play... well anyways the wizards in my opinion will get probably get the first round pick, trade it and send a package for etan, songaila, or blatche and get a solid realiable SF and maybe a PG or athletic SG.. As much as i like D Steve, he aint didnt do nothing for us and even early in the season got taken to school by BrandoN Roy, so D Steve has to go with Blatche, Etan, maybe N.Young, and definetly Dixon or M james...

Posted by: hawksbest08 | April 14, 2009 2:52 PM

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