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Wizards: No Saunders Deal Yet

Like a lot of you, we saw the Yahoo report that Flip Saunders has agreed to a four-year, $18 million deal to coach the Wizards.

Michael Lee had a couple chances to go straight to the source(s) tonight, even as the Wizards were letting a fourth-quarter lead against the Raptors slip away, and he got a clear message:

"Nothing done or agreed upon. Someone jumping the gun."

He asked the questions. You can interpret that answer however you want to interpret it.

Michael updates the whole Saunders situation here. The later versions of the story include a quote from inside the organization saying the hiring is "invevitable."

Michael Wilbon shares his thoughts on whether this would be the correct hire here.

And while we're at it, you can weigh in too:

By Keith McMillan  |  April 13, 2009; 10:15 PM ET
 | Tags: Ed Tapscott, Flip Saunders, coach  
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Comments

Wouldn't you know, Wilbon disagreeing with yet another Washington franchise on a potential great move. Can he ever give props to a Washington based team? Oh sure, maybe the Capitals, but he doesn't know anything about them except for the fact that they have the best player in the game.

Posted by: 1stpick | April 13, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Even though, nothing has been agreed upon Saunders probably will be coaching the Wizards next season anyway.

Posted by: brandonjamal13 | April 13, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Its a valid point

Posted by: dingersoll1 | April 13, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon has no idea what he is talking about -- Avery Johnson might take on Arenas but if he and Arenas butt heads -- not only will Avery Johnson be on his way out the door but the fans will suffer through chaos. Avery ran into problems with Dallas because of his rigid offense. He did not turn Dallas into a defensive stalwart but instead slowed down Dallas' offense -- that sounds familiar. He also got blew a 2-0 lead in the finals and a double digit 4th quarter lead that could have lead to a 3-0 lead. He followed that up with 2 first round playoff exits.

For those who say Saunders choked in the playoffs -- at least he recently choked in the ECFs -- not the first round. And look where Detroit is this year without Saunders -- struggling to get into the playoffs -- maybe its the players (Rasheed) and not Flip that were the problem.

Posted by: Chad32 | April 13, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to take Wilborn seriously when he says if:

1) the Wiz get a great coach
2) Arenas returns to form
3) the players stay healthy
4) Haywood plays great defensively
5) the young players continue to develop and
6) they get Blake Griffin in the draft,

then the Wiz might be the fifth or sixth best team in the East.

Huh?

Posted by: Izman | April 13, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon's argument is perfectly reasonable. But the flip side (so to speak) is that by bringing in a guy who's going to try and bring the hammer down and rule with an iron fist, you run the risk of him quickly alienating his players and having them tune him out, which is exactly what happened to Johnson with the Mavs, a team that wasn't exactly filled with strong personalities. If those guys got tired of him riding them so quickly, how long do you think he'd last in D.C.?

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 13, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon has wonderfully captured the thoughts I posted several months ago on this coaching decision. Choosing Flip over Avery is the absolute wrong statement about our 2 most important areas: A commitment to defense and a commitment to authority. Both have been weak during this Gilbert Arenas era. I can't believe that Grunfeld is making this major mistake. If Johnson is the second choice I hope the Saunders talks fall apart. I don't think Flip Saunders can take us any further than Eddie Jordan did.

Posted by: BmoreRev | April 13, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon is biased because he wanted his buddy Avery Johnson to get the job.

Of course Flip Saunders is the best choice to be the next coach of the Wizards. Flip will go down as the greatest coach in Wizards history, mark my words.

You heard it here first.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 13, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Bmorerev;

Right on point, this is the go along to get along move. Avery Johnson would require a sea change in the way this bunch plays and approaches the game. All this franchise is interested in is mediocrity and not the tough committment that it takes to be a championship contender. Flip Saunders represents more of the same. Until someone demands that the veterans on this squad plays defense, The Wiz will be a first, maybe second round team at best. Arenas, Butler and Jamison basically do what they want to do (which does not include a defensive presence)which is what the star players on Boston, Cleveland, San Antono. Detroit and other championship caliber teams have (had).

Terrible move to placate the fake Big Three.

Posted by: NewManagement | April 13, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

"Arenas, Butler and Jamison basically do what they want to do (which does not include a defensive presence)which is what the star players on Boston, Cleveland, San Antono. Detroit and other championship caliber teams have (had)."

Exactly. The problem isn't the coach, the problem is the players. Everyone of those teams except for Detroit has a legit HoF superstar who sets the tone and attitude defensively and held the rest of the players accountable so the coach didn't have to be the one preaching and riding them to defend. And Detroit had a collection of good not great players who all, individually, bought into defense so it didn't have to be one guy's responsibility (player or coach) to ride herd. The Wiz have none of that, and they won't until the roster gets overhauled.

No coach is going to turn Jamison, Butler, or Arenas into something different than what they are at this late stage of their career. Any one who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. So hiring a coach who can properly manage and get the most out of the assets they have makes sense.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 13, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Grunfeld's goal should not be to get back to the playoffs. It should be to win a championship. If the goal is to get to playoffs, Flip makes sense. If it is to win it all, AS IT SHOULD BE, then it doesn't. The only way Flip gets this team to the promised land is if...

1/ Blake Griffin is the team's pick, is the real deal as we think he is, and provides energy, rebounding and post defense at the 4.

2/ A mature Gilbert comes all the way back, embraces Flip's leadership and plays to make others better rather than prove he can score 30 a game.

I would love to see these things happen. But if I were a betting man...Oh well!

Posted by: BmoreRev | April 13, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon's argument against Flip is mainly because Flip is not black.

Wilbon wants the entire league to be black.

Quick, somebody ask Wilbon if he thinks the EEOC should check on the NBA and why it's 83% black while the USA is about 13% black.

Quick someobody check to see if ETap and EJ are really black.

Wilbon would probably rehire Gar Heard or Leonard Hamilton before he would hire Flip.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | April 14, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Did not see tonight's game - why did Blatche ride the bench?

GAR

Posted by: h20law2000 | April 14, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Who the hell in their right mind would want to come and be the ring-master to the ABE/GILBERT circus? Forget it.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 14, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

People, we are not going to be defensive minded no matter who we hire, so let's stop the defensive talk.

The best chance this team has to go past the first round is offense. We all know defense wins championships but lets talk about getting to the 2nd round first.

Flip is a great offensive guy and I think he will coax Arenas and Caron and Antawn to get more out of them while improving us offensively overall. With Brenda back and Javale Backing him up we should be able to be average defensively. If we can get a Blake Griffin pounding the boards we should be pretty solid as well.

The key really is Arenas coming back at 100% next year. If he does we are 4 seed in the East.

Posted by: insanity999 | April 14, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Just added the poll; surprised we hadn't had one yet.

I swear it wasn't my idea to add Ed Tapscott in the poll question.

Posted by: Keith McMillan | April 14, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Yall are being ridiculous.

Look at the Suns. Steve Kerr tried to make them something they werent and it ruined the franchise.

No, the current big 3 will never be a GREAT defensive team, but pretty good will be good enough.

Assume Flip takes full advantage of the Wizards talent, which is ample at the offensive end. Flip is also known for matchup zone defenses and imagine what kind of zones he can mix up with Haywood, McGee, Blatche and Antawn. That can cover a lot of ground defensively.

Flip Saunders over 13 years AVERAGES a 50 win season, and many of those Minnesota teams were not nearly as talented or deep as this Wizards team (when healthy).

This is a great fit and a great hire.

Posted by: UltimateFootballNetwork | April 14, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Off topic. Does ANYBODY know who would have the 2nd slot for balls if the Clippers and Wizards both finish with 19-63 records? Somebody must know the answer to this? Help a brother out, Thanks :)

Posted by: frediemac1 | April 14, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

I got nothing wrong with Saunders, but I thought (and never heard any mention of it, so it was purely a pipe dream) that Bill Laimbeer would've been a great choice. He's got multiple rings as a player, and multiple rings as a coach. Sure it was WNBA, but that makes it easier for him to play the "hey, if those girls on my teams can play defense, you punks should be able to too" card.

Posted by: kuhnjd | April 14, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Wilbon makes the best possible case for Avery Johnson over Saunders/Cassell.

The big question is: What kind of a difference will Cassell make as an assistant?

How much authority will Saunders give to Cassell? Maybe Saunder's selection of Cassell is a way of reconciling his own short-comings as a motivator and a coach. If so, maybe the move makes a critical difference.

I'm not a shrink, but my sense is that someone like Cassell will command more respect from Arenas right off the bat. Cassell's skills as a player more closely resembles Arenas than Avery Johnson's skills did.

Cassell's might be better at improving Arenas's game without destroying what's good about Arenas's game in the process. His time playing with Latrell Sprewell could come in handy too as far as knowing how to manage a temperamental, but talented player.

The San Antonio Spurs organization too, for better or worse, is nothing like the Wizards organization. When they had a guy like Dennis Rodman they didn't know what to do with him -- they ended up shipping him to the Bulls to a coach like Phil Jackson who had some ability to get the best out of Rodman's quirks.

Even if Arenas isn't nearly as crazy as Rodman, he's going to be a much bigger handful for Johnson than a guy like Stackhouse was. So, I think there's limits to the comparison.

If I was building an organization from scratch, or if I had a young team that didn't know any better, I might look first to someone like Avery Johnson. You'd build the team around his proven strengths as a coach. You'd have to be willing to give him two or three years to turn the corner.

In the case of the Wizards, most of the cards are on the table. A coach can make some changes around the edges, but as kalo_rama says, you can't turn the veterans into something that they aren't at this stage in their careers. You have to work with what they have.

Cassell is the part of the equation that makes me think the deal could actually work.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Off topic. Does ANYBODY know who would have the 2nd slot for balls if the Clippers and Wizards both finish with 19-63 records? Somebody must know the answer to this? Help a brother out, Thanks :)

Frediemac,
They would split the number of combinations, so instead of having 19.9% for second place and 15.6% for third, they'd each get 17.75% (or whatever the math works out to).

There is no tiebreaker in that instance.

Posted by: Keith McMillan | April 14, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

frediemac1,

Here are the rules:

"Tied teams split the number of chances and a blind draw determines which team receives an extra chance if the combined number of chances can not be split evenly."

e.g. http://www.nba.com/news/draftorderties_080418.html

e.g. Minnesota and Memphis has the same record in the 3rd and 4th spots. Normally, the 3rd has about a 15.6 percent chance, and the 4th slot has about a 12 percent chance. What they did was they added the two totals together and divided by two so that each team had about a 13.5 percent chance (one team actually had one extra ball as a tie breaker).

In the case of the Wizards and the Clippers this means that one team gets a 17.7 percent chance of landing the #1 overall and the other has a 17.8 percent chance of landing the #1 overall.

Extra point: The team that wins the 17.8 percent chance picks after the team with the 17.7 percent chance in the second round.

Posted by: JPRS | April 14, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

I have a comment to make.

Michael Wilbon is an idiot.

Posted by: iamse7en | April 14, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

i'd like to see mark jackson get the job. he was a tough point guard with tremendous leadership skills and will require everyone to play some defense. he'll select good X's and O's people and require accountability from the entire team without catching afire for every little mistake like avery johnson did. avery's attempts to make dirk and the mavericks play defense was silly and did not work. his insistence on obtaining jason kidd was a bummer. it is not working. and who wants a coach who only thinks veterans can win. i say again: look at portland as a model. they are young and can play. they are also VERY well coached. speaking of that: nate mcmillian IS from NC, think we can get him to come to DC??? lol

Posted by: dcjazzman | April 14, 2009 1:50 AM | Report abuse

I think the Wiz have had enough head games from their head coach to last a decade. Witness the alienation of BH and it was clearly starting to happen with AB too. Johnson, I'm afraid, would bring more of the same--albeit with different players, maybe GA, NY or CB. Saunders is probably the best available out there today, particularly based on the skills the big 3 possess. So in reality Johnson is probably a 3-4 year patch, who will hopefully get the most out GA, CB and AJ until their contract expire or EG can eventually sign and trade for younger players.

Now, I wouldnt be unhappy with Thiebeux either as the new coach...but then EG and the Wiz would need to begin to rebuild their mix of personell more quickly/drastically to develop a more well rounded offensive/defensive balance...which would bode well for longer term stability and winning consistency. Novel concept....but EG and Abe need to win now, as the clock is obviously ticking away for both.

Posted by: oddjob1 | April 14, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Wilbon is wrong as often as he is right, which makes him ....us with a bigger audience. No more credence should be given to what he says than to samson151, Kal, 88, me or anyone else here.

There's no way that if everything pans out the way he says it could we get to be the 5th or 6th seed. No one else in this league has the offensive talent that we do if Gil comes back healthy. NO ONE. Playing for Flip means we're virtually unstoppable on offense. The big rub is defense.
Like another poster said, we need to get back on track and to the 2nd round of the playoffs b4 we start printing out Finals tickets. Til we change the roster, our bread and butter is offense. We just need to learn how to get the occasional stop by buckling down in key moments. For THIS team, Flip is the better choice. If we trade AJ and get Blake, give me Avery.

Posted by: original_mark | April 14, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Here's one person I would Like to see here in the nation's capitol. Patrick Ewing as Head coach of the Wizards. I fell that who ever is brought in here as head coach need to get the attention of the young player's such as Andray Blatche and Nick Young. blatche looks like he's the Tim Thomas of the wizards. I fell that was the problem with EJ. The reason I like Pat he looks like he's a tough hard nose guy,old school and can get the attention of the young player's, especailly the big men here. His assistant would be Alonzo Morning.

Posted by: alvinvision | April 14, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

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 9:09 AM | Report abuse

we are choosing flip cause of gilbert.

so sad....we have opportunity to get a defensive minded coach that preaches discipline in avery johnson and we pass on him.

When the wiz were healthy and gilbert at his peak we still lost in the first round because we didn't know how to rebound, play defense, and have disciplined ball movement on offense.

gilbert has not only handicapped this team with his salary and knees....but now with coaching selections.

I am officially becoming a pacers fan until gilbert has left washington dc.

Posted by: jdgreger@yahoo.com | April 14, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

whats wrong with a coach demanding his top players to play DEFENSE? I mean seriously Boston won last year because they played great defense. The cavs have the best record because their 'STAR' Lebron stepped up his defense (his teammates said hey if our best player is playing defense shoot I will too)

I hear every night about Jamison plays his heart out (a man that plays no defense couldn't possibly being playig his heart out) he scores and rebounds, yes.
Defense no. Barkley said Jamison was the worst defensive player in the league when the wizards made the trade to get him.

Saunders will call out an offensive play after arenas butler and jamison get beat and scored on Avery, and every other good coach would cuss them out the entire length of the court.

Posted by: grayterrence | April 14, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"Barkley said Jamison was the worst defensive player in the league when the wizards made the trade to get him."

Well, he should know.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 14, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Jdgreger@yahoo.com,

On yo' way to being a Pacer Fan. Don't let the do' hit ya.'

Grayterrence,

My good fellow, good Team Defense is something that is taught and learned. Unfortunately, you along with that 'don't know what he's talking about Charles Barkley,' do not understand that.

From your analogy you wouldn't know what Defense is, if it hit you with that same do' that Jdgreger@yahoo.com just went through.

SWINGING DO' GOES WHACK WHACK.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 14, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I love the passion but I have still not heard an argument yet that convinces me that this team as configured currently and playing only great offense, which it potentially can, can win a championship.

So I will ask again...what are our goals? to win 50+ games and make the playoffs or to win a ring? If the consensus is that "we can't win a ring with this group so let's just roll the dice and depend upon our offense" then I wish they would realize what that means to some who are waiting for this team to reach the top again. We have seen seasons end in May around here recently and it is certainly fun. But some of us remember the day when the season ended in June and we were on top with a trophy. And that still should be the goal.

And I will repeat it again, in my humble opinion, teams that play into June do not ignore defense like we do. I hope that with a Blake (cross fingers), a renewed and wiser Gilbert (cross fingers and toes), McGuire and Haywood getting big minutes and a coach who understands the imporance of D, we can turn the culture of the team around. I am not sure that we can. But we will not win the big prize until we understand this.


Posted by: BmoreRev | April 14, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I like how everyone here is talking about hiring Avery Johnson like it would drastically change the team's defensive abilities. Do you think that just because Johnson is the coach, that Arenas and Jamison will magically turn into awesome one-on-one defenders? There's a reason that they don't do that: they can't.

Look what happened when the Suns hired Terry Porter to commit to a defense.

Granted, the team's defensive philosophy of collapsing the paint and leaving wide open shooters is terrible, but this current Wizards team just can't play good individual defense. When Stevenson is supposed to be the team's one main defensive stopper on the perimeter, there's obviously a problem.

It's a smarter move to bring in Saunders to coach the team, where he'll probably employ some type of matchup zone, which is his forte.

The Wizards staying healthy is what's important here, not bringing in a hard ass for a coach to make a square peg of team fit into a round hole.

Posted by: mkremnitzer0 | April 14, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"we are choosing flip cause of gilbert."

And choosing a coach who whose strengths parallel those of the team's most important and best player is bad why, exactly?

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 14, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

This might be a stretch but...could they bring Eddie Jordan back?

Posted by: lacasita | April 14, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

jdgreger@yahoo.com,

Ah the resident blog idiot from Terrapins Insider. The guy so stupid he put his email address as his handle. The guy who has never put 2 coherent sentences together on a blog entry. The guy who says he'll be a Pacers fan as long as Gilbert Arenas--the player who turned around the Wizards organization--is a Wizard.

I can't stop laughing at the stupidity of Jdgreger@yahoo.com

Posted by: Barno1 | April 14, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't know why the Wizards a so pressed to get Flip Saunders he has never won anything.Avery Johnson has won as a player and a coach, that in itself brings respect. Look at Dallas without Avery strugling to make the playoffs. Flip is another coach that doesn't stress defense and we see how far that's gotten the Wizards so far!

Posted by: hinese24 | April 14, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

What, exactly, has Avery Johnson won as a coach? He has the same number of rings as any currently active coach not named Popovich, Jackson, Rivers, or Brown.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 14, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't know why the Wizards a so pressed to get Flip Saunders he has never won anything.Avery Johnson has won as a player and a coach, that in itself brings respect. Look at Dallas without Avery strugling to make the playoffs. Flip is another coach that doesn't stress defense and we see how far that's gotten the Wizards so far!

Posted by: hinese24 | April 14, 2009 12:38 PM

-----

How many titles did Doc Rivers win before he was given the chance to coach the trio of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce? How good of a coaching job would Mike Brown be doing if he didn't have LeBron James?

It's a players' league. A coach can give a team an identity and keep morale high, but he can't win a title. If the Wizards are going to perform, it'll be because Arenas, Butler, and Jamison all stay healthy and play well. Not because Saunders is the coach.

Posted by: mkremnitzer0 | April 14, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"If the Wizards are going to perform, it'll be because Arenas, Butler, and Jamison all stay healthy and play well. Not because Saunders is the coach."

Posted by: mkremnitzer0 | April 14, 2009 12:48 PM

Yes and no. No question the players have to be healthy and perform for the team to have any chance. But if those things happen, then that's when the coach becomes a factor, and having the right versus the wrong one will make a difference. Saunders, whatever his faults, is well suited to get the best results (whatever those may be) out of the collection of players and talent assembled on the Wiz's roster.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 14, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"How many titles did Doc Rivers win before he was given the chance to coach the trio of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce? How good of a coaching job would Mike Brown be doing if he didn't have LeBron James?

It's a players' league. A coach can give a team an identity and keep morale high, but he can't win a title. If the Wizards are going to perform, it'll be because Arenas, Butler, and Jamison all stay healthy and play well. Not because Saunders is the coach.

Posted by: mkremnitzer0 | April 14, 2009 12:48 PM "

Not if they don't play defense.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | April 14, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

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