Tap on Flip
This will be the final night the Washington Wizards don gold uniforms, but this will also be District native Ed Tapscott's final home game as coach of this team. The Wizards are closing in on Flip Saunders and hope to get something done sooner than later. That has moved Tapscott from interim to lame duck, for lack of a better term.
Here's what he had to say at shootaround this morning:
On the Saunders speculation: "I think it would be inappropriate to comment. I've got two games left to finish. I've got tonight and I've got Boston on Wednesday. That's my entire focus at this point, to make sure we finish strongly as a team. Those issues play themselves out."
On whether the Saunders rumors are a hot topic in the locker room: "Team issues always focus on games and performance. I'm not in the locker room with them every minute. But the task at hand -- that's pretty much what we focus our conversations on."
On his personal feelings about possibly coaching his last game at Verizon Center as Wizards interim coach: "I would say I want to win every game I possibly can. I've taken that approach this entire season. I think as a professional team, that's your obligation, to play to win. Whether you do or not, obviously, is depended on a lot of different factors. But your approach, regardless of any circumstances surrounding your team and your franchise, is to go out and play and win. It wouldn't change my approach, if this were my last game or my first game. It would be the same approach. I can only play one game at a time."
And finally, on Flip: "I know Flip very well. Good guy. Good coach. Knows the game. Certainly does his work in the league, in each situation he's been in. He's one of the better coaches in the NBA."
I'm not sure how it will affect anything as far as the timing of Saunders' hiring, but Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld will be in New York on Thursday and Friday for the Board of Governors meetings.
A lot depends on what Saunders wants to do. Saunders certainly isn't in any rush to make to a decision. He's in a position where he can pick his spots, really. He can sit back and select the most ideal situation. But if you look at the teams that currently have interim coaches, you'd be hard pressed to find a better situation to enter than Washington, with three all-stars in tow. Sacramento is a mess with limited talent. Oklahoma City will likely keep Scott Brooks. Philadelphia could easily keep Tony DiLeo with the team advancing to the playoffs. Toronto has had a difficult season, but it has one all-star in Chris Bosh and might keep Jay Triano. Phoenix has plenty of talent, but the Suns appear poised to blow up that whole operation. And, I don't see him going back to Minnesota to replace Kevin McHale. That would just be weird.
This doesn't mean that Saunders won't go elsewhere. Who knows what happens this postseason, or what jobs become available? But right now, the Wizards job is perhaps the best available -- on paper, at least, and if Arenas is right.
By the way, Arenas said he is not going to play tonight against Toronto.
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