Who Will Assist Flip?

Nice suit, Flip. Very nice. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Flip Saunders said he has yet to finalize his coaching staff and doesn't appear to be in a rush to have it filled. I've already reported that Saunders would love to bring former Minnesota Coach Randy Wittman and his former player Sam Cassell to sit on the bench with him (Saunders reiterated yesterday that Cassell still has to decide if his playing career is finished; although the league might do that for him). But I got a tip last night about another person who could be a member of Saunders's staff -- Terry Porter.

Yep, Porter, the guy who got unceremoniously canned this season in Phoenix after Suns General Manager Steve Kerr decided that he made a mistake by trying to de-D'Antoni his team and put fun-and-gun in slow motion. Porter played for Saunders for three seasons in Minnesota and later was an assistant on his staff in Detroit. Porter also was a head coach in Milwaukee for two seasons.

Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld said that Saunders will also interview some of Eddie Jordan's/interim coach Ed Tapscott's assistants. "A lot of people are calling. Flip has some relationships. Those things take time. There really is no urgency," he said.

Grunfeld explained why Saunders was really the only candidate he seriously considered for the job. "The things I was looking for were experience; someone with a track record; someone who has won, not only in the regular season, but also in the playoffs; a good communicator and someone that can get us back to the playoffs and do some damage when we get there. He fit into all those categories. I felt like he was the top candidate for us. He brings the whole package to the table. He brings a lot of credibility and a lot of knowledge. With knowledge, you get respect."

Grunfeld said he also wanted a player-friendly coach who runs an up-and-down offense and plays an exciting brand of basketball. Funny, didn't he just fire one of those guys last November?

One reporter asked Grunfeld to compare Saunders to Jordan, who had the most successful four-year run for a Wizards/Bullets Coach in the past 30 years. Grunfeld's response? "This is not about comparing coaches. Everybody has their own style and everybody plays the game their own way. We've had some good success in the past, except for this past season and as I said, it was a painful season. I think we're going to use it as motivation this summer so something like this doesn't happen again. Flip is his own man. He does things his own way. I think his coaching style is different than what we've had in the last few years."

By Michael Lee |  April 24, 2009; 9:17 AM ET
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Let us hope that Eddie Jordan gets the SAC job and that he cleans-out any remnants of his old crew. That would be sweet.

Posted by: closg | April 24, 2009 9:24 AM

If I remember correctly, Kalorama explained the Jordan firing clearly -- that ultimately it was based on factors other than the team's record. I found that persuasive. Otherwise it doesn't seem to make much sense.

Now it's Ernie's turn. He can 't go with an inexperienced coach because without significant improvement, this season is likely Grunfeld's last. He can't try a complete remake of the team for exactly the same reason. He's picked the best coach he can find for the situation, and now he needs to get lucky.

Good luck, Ernie Grunfeld.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 24, 2009 10:08 AM

"Let us hope that Eddie Jordan gets the SAC job and that he cleans-out any remnants of his old crew. That would be sweet.Posted by: clos"

Sacramento looks like an opportunity for him. He's got two good offensive players in Kevin Martin and Jason Thompson, and a defensive center. This would be a place for Ricky Rubio to wind up. If they could sign a scorer at SF, a veteran, that would really help.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 24, 2009 10:16 AM

Here's one to ponder, If Sac. hires Jordan, would they pull the trigger on Rubio over Griffin if the balls bounce their way?

There seems to be people out there who have an All World opinion of Rubio. I really haven't seen enough of the guy to form an opinion.

But word is that he's in the draft this year. Question is, will a team have to wait a year. Outside endorsement income from a shoe contract, etc, could pay the buyout.

Sac. seems to be a good fit for Eddie, I wish him luck...

Posted by: flohrtv | April 24, 2009 10:27 AM

Does Eddie getting a job affect whom Flip gets to bring in as his assistants?


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 24, 2009 10:32 AM

Does Eddie getting a job affect whom Flip gets to bring in as his assistants?

I was thinking that it does, because some of them were re-hired with Eddie. This organization might be too cheap to just fire them now and get new assistants. It would be cheaper for the Wiz org to have them quit to go work with EJ in SAC.

Posted by: closg | April 24, 2009 11:08 AM

O'Koren is getting paid whether he finds a new job or not. Regarding Ayers, Hubbard, and Unseld, Jr., I think they would get paid if there weren't retained since they have contracts through next season. I don't think Flip is going to be handcuffed by the fact that the Wiz have them under contract in hiring his own assistants.

Posted by: wizfan89 | April 24, 2009 11:13 AM

Whether Jordan gets hired somewhere else has no bearing on who Flip hires as an assistant. The only reason Jordan's lieutenants were kept around after he got canned was because Tapscott needed someone on the bench with actual NBA coaching experience and they didn't have time to start from scratch. The whole point of bringing Saunders in is to change things up, so forcing him to use the old coach's assistants wouldn't make much sense. He may keep one of them to draw on their familiarity with the players and their tendencies, but I would think he has pretty much free rein to assemble his own staff.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 24, 2009 11:24 AM

They can hand the pink slip to everyone (yes, even Ayers) except Wes Unseld Jr. He's untouchable in the organization.

Posted by: Dave381 | April 24, 2009 11:37 AM

I agree with Dave381. Wes Unseld Jr has the keys to the Verizon Center because of his father's loyalty. In addition, he has 10+ years of experience in various capacities in the organization. He's no dummy.

Posted by: abootstrapper | April 24, 2009 2:16 PM

Wes Unseld Jr. can keep the summer keys with the Mystics but he needs to relinquish then for when the men arrive.

Posted by: Chad32 | April 24, 2009 5:02 PM

I'm glad some other readers already chimed in about the inevitable extension of Wes Unseld, Jr.'s contract. Don't get me wrong-- I like the Unseld family very much. Whether Wes Jr. could get a sniff of a job anywhere else is open to debate, however.

A staff consisting of Cassell, Porter and Wes Jr. would be great.

Posted by: drischord | April 25, 2009 2:42 PM

I kinda like wes Jr & Cassell OR Porter but I think we need someone with more coaching experience alittle more mature. Randy Wittman looks like a good fit.

Assistant Coaching is gonna be the least of our problems-----Staying healthy will determine how successful we'll be.

Posted by: VBFan | April 25, 2009 8:48 PM

We need an assistant who has played the 4/5 to be able to teach the bigs. Someone who can work with McGee and Blatche and make them better players coming off the bench.

Posted by: Drkitchen | April 28, 2009 1:56 PM

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