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Saunders Is Likely Choice

Sources tell Michael Lee that the Wizards are close to naming Flip Saunders their next head coach. In a story for Monday's newspaper, he reports that Saunders is the top choice of GM Ernie Grunfeld, and that Saunders has already tabbed former NBA player Sam Cassell as an assistant, according to a source.

By Alexa Steele  |  April 12, 2009; 4:55 PM ET
 
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Comments

um, WTF? Flip Saunders took Larry Brown's identical championship team into the dirt. He's widely recognized as an absolutely terrible coach. Grunfeld is scary.

Of course, so long as Saunders doesn't invent a personal grudge against Brendan Haywood and choose to bench him to satisfy his personal vendetta over beating the Cavs in the playoffs, he'll still be better than Eddie Jordan.

Posted by: radiotank | April 12, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Personally I would like them to find the next Assistant who's ready to be a Head Coach. But Caron said something smart about their window this week. With the ages of their stars and their contracts. Its only a couple of years.

So, I could live with this.

Come on ping pong......give us Blake.

Posted by: EckertA | April 12, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Taking a team like Minnesota into the playoffs 7 years in a row and another team to the conference finals 3 years in a row is running a team into the ground? As a coach a 587 and 396 career win loss record ain't bad. Also, I think for better or for worse he can work with some of the ego(s) on this team.

Sam Cassell makes sense as an assistant because he played for Flip in Minnesota and likely knows Flip's playbook and schemes and mentality. And, I think FS's defensive schemes are bound to work better than EJ's.

Posted by: bassguy654 | April 12, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Flip is alright, though Nick Young will have some serious work to do to learn the Match-up Zone principles and the complex playbook.

I like the idea of loudmouth winner/champion Sam Cassell on the bench.

Posted by: doclinkin | April 12, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Good pick if it happens.

In terms of temperament Saunders is probably a better fit for Arenas -- I can see some clashes between Avery Johnson and Arenas.

The criticisms are fair about Saunders -- he was a great coach during the regular season who didn't get the job done in the playoffs. He also inherited a Piston's team with an aging front court. I can see pros and cons with both Johnson and Saunders -- my sense though is that Saunders could be a great fit with the Wizards current group of veterans.

Posted by: JPRS | April 12, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'll say that I agree re: Avery Johnson, if those are the 2 choices, I would take Saunders in a heartbeat. Every time Avery Johnson speaks I want to slice off my ears.

Posted by: radiotank | April 12, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

God help us.

Posted by: satchmore | April 12, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I agree with EckertA the Wizards need to look at a great organization like the Steelers and take a chance on a great assistant. Hiring Saunders would be like me putting retread tires on a Ferrari. Oh I am sorry I forgot this organization is more like a Yugo so go ahead and hire Saunders and get knocked out in the first round again for the next 3 years.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 12, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Avery Johnson..

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Could not be any happier with the selection of our next coach. If it indeed is true that Flip Saunders will be the next coach of the Washington Wizards, he will end up going down as the greatest coach in Washington Bullets/Wizards history when it is all said and done.

Go ahead and laugh.

Mark my words.

You heard it here first.

Flip Saunders will win an NBA championship in Washington.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 12, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

As I posted earlier, I am pulling for Flip Saunders to prove me wrong if he is the choice.

I too agree though, Sam Cassell may make a good choice as an assistant.

However, it does indicate that Ernie Grunfield realizes that this Team is Offense first. Thats good and you all know that Run and Gun LarryInClinton is all for that.

But, how fast does Flip really want to go and can he back it up with a good defensive scheme.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 12, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Times is reporting it as a done deal. Hope the vets buy into him. That was the problem in Detroit.

Posted by: h20law2000 | April 12, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I love the pick of Sam for Assistant coach. If he can teach NY the bump and pop he will be real tough. He has all the tools to do it.
I was thinking about Brian Shaw assistant with the Lakers but he might be too young.

Posted by: AWizinLA | April 12, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Next assistant needs to be a big man coach. I don't know if we can lure Pat Ewing for an assistant gig but I think he has a house in MD.

Posted by: AWizinLA | April 12, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Radiotank: Stop posting if you don't know what you're talking about Eddie Jordan did not have a personal vendetta against Haywood,Brenden was a underachieving seven foot cupcake and a had a bad attitude Jordan wanted a center who rebounded and defended the rim and scored when the situation called for it. Haywood has improved tremendously and in Jordans last full season as coach Haywood had his best year. Jordan was old school,he wanted players to earn playing time he beleived that practice made perfect,EJ was great at X'S and O's and if he had been given the tools to work with this franchise would have had another NBA championship.Flip Saunders is a retread nothing great I wouldn't put him ahead of Jordan that's for damn sure,Jordan did more with less. Grunfeld is desperate he know's he bears sole responsibility for this train wreck of a season he more than anyone else players included, knows that he is on the hot seat.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 12, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Good choice, now lets see what kind of staff he puts together. I hope he keeps Hopla around and brings someone in to work with the young bigs.

Posted by: wiz313 | April 12, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

uninspiring but a safe solid choice. considering some of the other names that were floating around (sam mitchell and avery johnson) im happy.

cassell could be an inspired choice for asst. glad to have one of baltimore's finest on board.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 12, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

I like Flip's first move. Sam Cassell was one of the smartest players around at both ends of the floor, and one of the fiercest competitors around. Nick and Javaris could really learn a lot from him.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | April 12, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Pat Ewing as big man coach? Now that doesn't sound bad.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 12, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

This is a terrific hire. Detroit has fallen apart without Flip. I live in Michigan and watch all the Pistons games, and Flip can flat out coach. The man is a genius. The problem in Detroit was that crazy guys like Sheed, Rip, Ben Wallace, etc. tuned him out from the start, solely because he wasnt Larry Brown. I think its a great hire, and he is perfect for the pieces on this team.

Posted by: Roman5 | April 12, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

So who's gonna coach defense?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | April 12, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Why am I underwhelmed by the notion of FLIP SAUNDERS being the WIZARDS head case, oops, head coach for the next three years? On April 12, 2009 we need a savior in our time of need. FS ain't it. Rising assistants such as TOM THIBODEAUX are not interested in becoming embroiled in the circus that is the WASHINGTON franchise. They don't want to ruin their budding careers by becoming another casualty of the FATHER ABE/AGENT ZERO show.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 12, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Saunders is a good, not great coach whose strengths probably fit in well with the team's personnel. Johnson would be a much riskier choice unless Grunfeld is planning to seriously overhaul the roster.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 12, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Why am I underwhelmed by the notion of FLIP SAUNDERS being the WIZARDS head case, oops, head coach for the next three years?

Rising assistants such as TOM THIBODEAUX wouldn't touch the LIZARDS circus with a ten foot pole. The FATHER ABE/AGENT ZERO show will just have to get someone like FS to hold the fort until ownership changes.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 12, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Offense is not this team's problem. They play no D. Bringing on a coach that's an offensive specialist makes no sense. Plus, the team needs a coach who's going to put NutJob Zero in his place - and clearly, that's not Saunders who reportedly runs from confrontations - that does not bode well for development of young, immature players either.

Posted by: BulletsFan1 | April 12, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about anyone else but hiring Saunders is all about the Wizards scoring a lot of points (yes, I know Larry you like the run and gun)and putting fans in the seats. Not about trying to win a championship. If Saunders could not win with Detroit's lineup what makes anyone think he can win a championship with the players on this roster?

Maybe the rest of you will settle for making the playoffs and losing in the first round again but I believe the organization needs to do something to show the players and fans that the front office has a desire to win a championship.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 12, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

"Offense is not this team's problem. They play no D. Bringing on a coach that's an offensive specialist makes no sense. Plus, the team needs a coach who's going to put NutJob Zero in his place - and clearly, that's not Saunders who reportedly runs from confrontations - that does not bode well for development of young, immature players either.

Posted by: BulletsFan1 | April 12, 2009 11:12 PM "

Defense is clearly a big problem on this team.

Offense to some, is probably not a problem on this team, but that's only if you dont mind a lot of run and gun, free wheel jacking type of offense.

Sam Cassell was probably hired for street cred. If Saunders can't relay the message, then Sam will be sent in.

It'll be interesting to see how much Abe is going to pay these two guys.

Here's something more certain though....West Unseld Jr. will probably be back.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | April 12, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | April 13, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Congrats Flip.Avery is way too religious for this squad!! SamIAm Cassell will draw up some crazy plays.We might be the highest scoring team in the league next year.Wizards give 102 points a game it can't get any worse on Defense.Golden St gives 112.

Posted by: jeremydvid | April 13, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Peter Vescey is usually wrong so I'm starting to feel a lot better about the hire since he's against it.

Posted by: A2daRon | April 13, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

dargreg,

Love how you say EJ was old school and wanted players to earn their mins when you don't extend that same sentiment to Tap.

The truth is EJ damn near ran our only legit NBA center out of town. Remember the off season meeting that EG had to put together to rectify the situation? I think it is very obvious albeit in hindsight who was correct in that conflict. Haywood was ready for the starting job perhaps a season or two before it was granted by EJ. Etan never was nor never will be a better center than Haywood.

And your assertion that EJ would win a championship with the right tools is laughable especially when paired with your assertion that EJ is a better coach than Flip. Hmmm...really? Want to check their winning percentages? Want to check their playoff success? 11 playoff seasons out of 13 with most of those seasons in Minnesota...you kidding me? Absolutely a joke!!!

Posted by: rphilli721 | April 13, 2009 1:40 AM | Report abuse

Bulletsfan,

Ummm, so what do you suggest? Turn an offensive team into a defensive team? How did that work out for Phoenix this year?

I agree we need defensive improvement, but we are not going to ever be a "defensive" team. Not with this personnel. So you go with what you got and hope that Flip's defensive schemes are good enough to make us average defensively. That would be good enough to make us very scary in the playoffs.

Posted by: rphilli721 | April 13, 2009 1:52 AM | Report abuse

kalorama: "Johnson would be a much riskier choice unless Grunfeld is planning to seriously overhaul the roster."

Which it seems he isn't. The impression being that he really thinks that with Gilbert and Haywood and a little help from a lottery rookie, they can make a legit run into the playoffs.

Will it work? I certainly can't tell.

Saunders was brought into Detroit to improve their offensive performance, wasn't he? And he did, if I recall correctly. Coaches like Larry Brown often leave positions after they win a title, not just because they've reached the pinnacle but because they suspect they don't have the horses to win another. Wonder if some of that was going on in Detroit.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 13, 2009 6:43 AM | Report abuse

roman5: "The problem in Detroit was that crazy guys like Sheed, Rip, Ben Wallace, etc. tuned him out from the start, solely because he wasnt Larry Brown."

Izzat true? The stuff I recall reading from Detroit at the time suggested he started off fairly well in terms of player support, and that persisted through an outstanding regular season. In fact, didn't a number of players openly express relief at the change in coaching style? Then he lost that support when they couldn't win a title? And Ben Wallace subsequently went to Chicago, for which Flip got some heat.

Sounds a bit like what happened to Avery Johnson in Dallas, over a shorter time frame. Avery was a defensive whiz who replaced an offensive guru. Flip did the opposite.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 13, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

rphilli721, I read your posts and thought it was ME typing.
All we need is a guy who has the stones to bench no-defense-playing vets. The offense will take care of itself because we have scorers on this team.

Posted by: original_mark | April 13, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

rphilli721:

All that's needed is to flip the roster. Unfortunately, the "flip" headlined in this article is not the one to perform that task.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 13, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

bulletsfan78:

The desire of management is to have 20,000+ fannies in the seats night after night. And I must admit, people are showing up when the main event is on, that being "GILBERT and the ramblers." Its as far from championship b-ball as you can get.

Don't wish BLAKE GRIFFIN on this franchise. There might actually be some solid PF play next year if it happens. Of course, the coaching would ruin his talents. I'd rather see a young man on another team excel at his craft and become a great player, than have that player in house and continually bemoan what might have been.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 13, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Samson151,

As a native Detroiter and long-time Pistons fan, I can say without reservation or fear of much contradiction that this most recent version of the Pistons was widely known as a very tough group to coach. The basically believed that they could coach themselves and got into the habit of tuning out coaches as soon as the unpacked their bags.

There's a reason they've had 4 different coaches in 8 years.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 13, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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