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Posted at 3:54 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Nick Young speaks with Flip Saunders, JaVale McGee returns

By Michael Lee

It seemed unusual for the usually playful Nick Young to speak out the way he did on Saturday after the Wizards lost in Memphis. But when he read those comments in print the next morning, he felt compelled to call Coach Flip Saunders to clarify his intent.

After the Wizards lost 107-93 to the Grizzlies, Young said, "I don't know. We don't stay consistent with play calling. It's crazy. It can't be us all the time. The same thing we run against the Thunder, we came out with a different plan. It can't be us every night."

Saunders said at the morning shoot-around that Young called him on Sunday to explain. "He says he didn't really say that. He says he was frustrated and that's not how he meant for it to come out."

As Young headed to the team bus on Monday after shoot-around, I asked what he meant and he said his primary objective was to get everyone on the same page, not to put one side against the other.

"We've got to be together," Young said. "We're all in this together. That's all I was trying to say."

Saunders said that during their conversation, he still felt Young was focusing on the wrong part of the floor.

"One thing I said to Nick, that part of the problem, if that was the case, is we're talking about offense when it should be about defense. That's why we've lost 23 straight. Defensively, we haven't had that same presence. We've got to do a better job defensively."

There is a considerable drop off in defensive intensity on the road for the Wizards. They are surrendering 109 points in 23 road games, compared to just 97.4 points in 23 games at Verizon Center. The Wizards are also outscoring opponents by an average of 1.4 points at home but getting outscored by an average of 9.4 points on the road.

After giving up an average of 115.5 points in their first two games, the Wizards will welcome back JaVale McGee who missed the losses to Oklahoma City and Memphis because of the flu. McGee joined the team on Sunday in Dallas.

"I feel a lot better than I was," McGee said, explaining that he was "just tired. Light-headed, dizzy, sore throat. Real sick. Real bad."

McGee said he watched the games with the NBA app on his iPhone and wasn't surprised by the production of Trevor Booker, who averaged 16.5 points and 12 rebounds starting in his place. "He was playing hard. Rebounding. But I knew that, because if you look at the New York game, the way we was playing, we caught up because me and Trevor was both going to the boards, we both was running the floor. I knew what he was going to do when I saw that."

Saunders said he will keep Booker in the starting lineup and bring McGee off the bench against Dallas. "We've got JaVale back, which will give us some more inside presence and put us in a situation to have some success. We'll start the same way, because JaVale has been out for five games. I don't know how much energy he's going to have. We'll probably just bring him off."

By Michael Lee  | January 31, 2011; 3:54 PM ET
Categories:  Flip Saunders, JaVale McGee, Nick Young  
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Next: Open thread: Wizards (13-33) at Mavericks (31-15)

Comments

I don't think flip should get fired. Let his contract run for two more years and get a new coach. If you get a coaching change and win more it will hurt our lottery chances. The goal is to rebuild and this is year 1. OKC and ATL took at least 3 years and by the time we stocked up on lottery picks we can get a new coach. right now we are not in win now but develop now! but at least get a road win

Posted by: jefferu | January 31, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

It was classy of Nick Young to call Flip Saunders to clarify his comments. But part of what Nick said was on point, "it can't be us all the time."

I agree with Saunders that the Wizards need to get better defensively. IMO, this team isn't going anywhere this season. If Flip is serious about getting better defensively, he needs to decrease the minutes of his two worst defenders [John Wall and Andray Blatche]. Give Mustafa Shakur and Trevor Booker more minutes at PG and PF.

Rather than focus on what Nick Young did or did not say, I'd really like to see Flip Saunders take ANY responsibility for 23 consecutive road losses. With Saunders, it's always something that the "players" failed to execute.

Posted by: musicmanjr | January 31, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"One thing I said to Nick, that part of the problem, if that was the case, is we're talking about offense when it should be about defense. That's why we've lost 23 straight. Defensively, we haven't had that same presence. We've got to do a better job defensively."


There's a disconnect here. NY's comments were based on the sets and plays called in Memphis. Now whether he meant that in the "togetherness" spin-talk he's kickin i do not know. But for Flip to discount it and turn the discussion on him and his defense solves nothing. NY clearly has an issue with the way guys turn into MERCS in the 4th Q with each guy trying to outscore his teammate and be the hero (I guess NY is one of them too tho) instead of riding the horse that got you there. It's good though, that NY knew he had to straighten this one out and took the initiative to call Flip.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | January 31, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I think the evidence is persuasive that the Wiz are a different team at home vs on the road. They're not really good in either place, mind you. Their margin of victory at Verizon is not big enough to offset the margin of loss in road games.

What's the difference? Hard to imagine it's the play-calling. They're not calling substantially different plays at home and on the road. They adjust for the opponent no matter where they play them. It's the outcome that's been different.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"One thing I said to Nick, that part of the problem, if that was the case, is we're talking about offense when it should be about defense. That's why we've lost 23 straight. Defensively, we haven't had that same presence. We've got to do a better job defensively."

Well said. The Post reporters and many of the posters here overemphasize scoring,too.

Posted by: djnnnou | January 31, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

IMO the team that reminds me most of Washington is OKC. They're both built around younger players and have similar weaknesses inside. John Wall is not yet as good as Westbrook but you can see the makings there. What's missing from the Wiz? Maturity, of course, but mainly Kevin Durant. The guy who can win the game for you in the last minute. The player who can carry you for ten minutes when nobody else is hitting.

Not many of those guys around. Gilbert might have been one, once, but no more.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

One Flip's biggest weaknesses (imo) is the fact he seems to always want to adjust to the other team rather than making them adjust to us. Kind of a passive guy I guess.

Why'd you take Javale out, Flip?

Well, they went small so we had to blah blah blah.

0-23 buddy, couldnt hurt to try something different like forcing our personel and style onto the opponent

Posted by: divi3 | January 31, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Rather than focus on what Nick Young did or did not say, I'd really like to see Flip Saunders take ANY responsibility for 23 consecutive road losses. With Saunders, it's always something that the "players" failed to execute.

Posted by: musicmanjr | January 31, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Musicmanjr - I totally agree. Case in point: That Detroit game in November and that Indiana game in December on the road is were bad coaching lost the games and not the players.

Let us not forget the Miami Heat game here at home when AB tried to pass the ball into NY with a difficult pass and NY muffed it and the Heat turned it into points.

Remember the ball was taken out under the Heat's basket after the made shot. Anybody coaching AAU ball knows to CALL TIMEOUT and then you get to take the ball out from halfcourt where you can then use the whole court vs. half of it from under somebody's basket.

That was the coach's job to tell his team to call timeout and to also alert the officials. Not once did I hear him after the game take the blame for that one, just like the other two road games they had won until he messed up the flow calling bad rotations.

I have nothing against Flip and as I said before I agree with him being hired for the team we had in place at that time. However, this is a new and young team and they seem like they need a in your face type of "young" coach who played the game. Not Mark Jackson, but Sam Cassell.....

Posted by: BulletsFever | January 31, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I called it. I wrote this on 2 other Wiz sites last night:


I wrote this on 2 other Wiz sites last night:


Am I the only one thats really really reallly looking forward to that NY vs Stevenson matchup? I think thats going to be awesome and both will play mad hard against eachother. Not as good but I also want to see Wood vs McGee.

Call me crazy but I honestly wouldnt be shocked to see Flip atleast for this 1 game tryout have an excuse to bring McGee off the bench because he's just coming back with the flu and he likes the matchup of Dray against Chandler & having Booker on Dirk. I could see that. Then we would have McGee matched up against Wood off the bench. If it works and we win then Flip may stay like that for awhile but if we lose then McGee starts the next game. Doubt if it happens but I wouldnt be shocked to see it go down that way.

Then hopefully we can add that to a return of Josh Howard. I honestly wouldnt mind seeing our same starting lineup with Dray & Booker and then come off the bench with Kirk, Josh, Al, & McGee in a 9 man rotation. I love it. That 2nd unit is vetran & tough while McGee will kill most backup centers and can bring that energy off the bench.

Dray isnt quick enough this year so I actually think it would help him alot Offensively to be at the 5 because he can still blow by them. Booker can play well off the bench but I think he's one of those guys that would be more productive starting while I think McGee might actually be more productive off the bench. Role with that 9 man rotation one game and see what we look like Flip

Posted by: dlts2041 | January 31, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Then today we see what Flip said about McGee coming off the bench. Im telling you this isnt about bringing Javale off because of rust or whatever. He wants to see how it really looks. He likes Dray on O against the 5's and Booker's overall toughness while he's said all year that McGee may not be ready to start. He wants to see how this looks. Ofcourse it doesnt mean much but a look. If either Dray or Book stinks it up or we lose like crap again then Flip will probably go back the next game but if it works well like I think it could then I could see him staying with this

Posted by: dlts2041 | January 31, 2011 4:55 PM | Report abuse

"One thing I said to Nick, that part of the problem, if that was the case, is we're talking about offense when it should be about defense. That's why we've lost 23 straight. Defensively, we haven't had that same presence. We've got to do a better job defensively."

Well said. The Post reporters and many of the posters here overemphasize scoring,too.

Posted by: djnnnou | January 31, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if people are tripping about the points, but the way they go about getting points. Peopla aren't tripping about scoring when they tell Ab to get in the post. They're tripping about the way in which he goes about playing the game. I think NY's comments weren't about their offense as a whole, but how poorly it was executed against MEM.
We can keep banging our heads against the stone until a strong defensive team appears, but understand that MEM was setting records with their offense, and our defense isn't gonna be any better on the road in front of their crowd. The way the offense is run can be altered by the coaching staff.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | January 31, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Like I said, NY don't need to say sh** about anything. Coach is 100% correct. Nick needs to focus as much if not more on the defensive end than he does on the offensive end..

Argue with people on this page all the time about Nick's lack of defensive focus.

He's worried about an offensive set and you didn't hear one word about defense..

Posted by: kevenjones | January 31, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Not a big shock that Nick was summoned to the coach's office for a little 'chat' after he publicly questioned the playcalling. NY may have been correct, but you can't call out management in the media and get away w/ it.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 31, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

NY may have been correct, but you can't call out management in the media and get away w/ it.

Unless you are Andray Blatche, in which case you can call Flip a "bald-faced liar" and start the next night.

Posted by: divi3 | January 31, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards play exactly how the practice, so if there is a lack of defensive awareness it falls on the coach...It's more than just defense, it's offense as well...Bottom line, the players aren't being put in the best position to win ball games...So who does that responsibility fall on?

I don't think Flip is a good coach, and no one can convince me otherwise...However, I don't think getting rid of Flip right now mid season will solve much, but maybe at seasons end it's time to go in a different direction

Posted by: babycas2000 | January 31, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Keven AO where you been, there's always one.Nick is the best defensive player on the team or at lest one of them.

Posted by: maejude | January 31, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

When Booker and Lewis are in the game at the same time, the concept of 3 and 4 is all jumbled up. The tall guy can't rebound, but has a smoothe stroke and the short guy that rebounds like a beast but can't play on the perimeter...unless it's on D when the tall guy can't play perimemeter D...It's weird enough that I kinda like it.

I also like splitting McGee and Blatche at Center an minimizing time on the court together.


Posted by: cballer | January 31, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Why not start Booker at small forward along with MaGee and Blache? He plays like Tough Juice anyway and could be a good compliment.

Posted by: junkmail0153 | January 31, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think Flip is a good coach, and no one can convince me otherwise..."Posted by: babycas2000

You should fit right in with the other open-minded types on this blog.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2011 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Not a big shock that Nick was summoned to the coach's office for a little 'chat' after he publicly questioned the playcalling. NY may have been correct, but you can't call out management in the media and get away w/ it.
Posted by: randysbailin

Except the part where Nick wasn't ever summoned. He called Flip on their off-day to 'clarify' his comments.

Posted by: ts35 | January 31, 2011 6:09 PM | Report abuse

What is a "bald-faced liar?" Is that a person without facial hair who is lying?

Posted by: MeviousMan | January 31, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Keven AO where you been, there's always one.Nick is the best defensive player on the team or at lest one of them.

Posted by: maejude

+1 Couldn't get to the end quick enough !

Posted by: bossclifnpooh2 | January 31, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Nick is the best defensive player on the team or at lest one of them.
Posted by: maejude

----

yeah, and he's the best offensive player. and he should be calling the plays. and he's leaving if flip and wall don't get ditched soon.

give it a rest, mom.

Posted by: MinuMang | January 31, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Mrs.Young is on-point this time, nick has been one the team's better defenders all season. We already know Flip wouldnt endure 1-13 nights if NY wasn't giving max effort on the defensive end.

Posted by: divi3 | January 31, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

We can keep banging our heads against the stone until a strong defensive team appears, but understand that MEM was setting records with their offense, and our defense isn't gonna be any better on the road in front of their crowd. The way the offense is run can be altered by the coaching staff. Posted by: lilhollywood10

Memphis was setting records with their offense, so the Wizards should of tried to outscore them? Come on, that doesn't make any sense. All that outscoring the other team nonsense should of died when Agent Fingergunz got shipped out of here. And NY played like garbage from the start. Let's stop pretending that play calling had anything to do with his performance.

Posted by: djnnnou | January 31, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

"What is a "bald-faced liar?" Is that a person without facial hair who is lying?
Posted by: MeviousMan"

LOL actually yes, strange as it may seem. A variation on 'bare-faced'. Later became bold-faced but the etymology isn't as clear.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Wall is probably the worst defender on the team, if Flip wants to talk defense, there's where he needs to start.

Posted by: divi3 | January 31, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

C'mon coach get these young dudes on the floor together. Especially Trevor Booker (Ledell Eackles). Man, these young dudes got talent and hungry for wins. If you let them sit, they will not get the experience, which may cause frustration. Coach, please let these young dudes make you look good and surprise you with their performance.

Coach, don't be so surprised when they win on the road tonight against Dallas. You're going to say to yourself, I have the talent to make me really look good as a coach. Watch how they prove it to you. Guaranteed Win Tonight....if you let them play.

Posted by: clifton3 | January 31, 2011 7:05 PM | Report abuse

"Wall is probably the worst defender on the team"

Oh, I doubt that. He's the least experienced defender, definitely. Even less experienced than the other rookies. Being the top choice, he does tend to get the opponent's best most nights, as has been pointed out. And he's clearly having conditioning problems, particularly against heavy running teams like Phoenix and NY.

But his positioning is all right, and he has naturally good hands (check his steal numbers). We're not seeing the motivation problems we saw with Blatche and Nick Young as rookies. Or the positioning problems we still see sometimes from Javale. He seems to have a good basketball IQ (although don't ask me to define that). So that's promising.

Worst defender on the Wiz at the moment (the title shifts) is probably Andray. Not that he doesn't play defense well, but his effort has been remarkably inconsistent, like the rest of his game. Thornton can play good defense -- almost any really good athlete can --- but he's also here one night and gone another.

I don't mean to say Wall isn't having his struggles on defense, but fundamentally he's pretty solid. I'm guessing he'll only get better.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Wall is probably the worst defender on the team, if Flip wants to talk defense, there's where he needs to start. Posted by: divi

I guess this is news to you.

"I'm giving the guards too much comfort level," Wall said. "That's something I've got to do better and that's pressuring the ball and not letting the guards feel comfortable because when I get the ball on the other end, they are pressuring me. There are certain ways they want me to guard a player and I'm guarding them the way I want, I'm just not being aggressive. The game plan is great. I get kind of slack with it."

Posted by: djnnnou | January 31, 2011 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Which goes to the next point: I think we miss Howard. When healthy he probably is our best defender, at least against the small forwards who are so prominent among the top scorers. He's the only Wiz with the combination of mental and physical skills to really bother a top of the line scorer. Not a great defender, but a good one.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2011 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Wall is probably the worst defender on the team, if Flip wants to talk defense, there's where he needs to start.

Posted by: divi3 |
Kin I git an AMEN?

Posted by: VBFan | January 31, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think Flip is a good coach, and no one can convince me otherwise..."Posted by: babycas2000

You should fit right in with the other open-minded types on this blog.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2011 6:08 PM

open-minded types,

Boy, evidence of the pot calling the kettle black is live and well, isn't it Samson?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 31, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

"Boy, evidence of the pot calling the kettle black is live and well, isn't it Samson?
LarryInClintonMD.Posted by: LarryInClintonMD"

You're speaking as a big ol' funky kettle, right?

Posted by: Samson151 | January 31, 2011 7:30 PM | Report abuse

i hate nick young

Posted by: slick3 | January 31, 2011 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Don't get Blatche, shooting 1/9 and still taking bad shots.

Posted by: zack5 | January 31, 2011 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Glad nick made the effort to approach flip. Even better to hear that flip made a point about defense and watch nick put in a good defensive effort against dallas

Posted by: crs-one | February 1, 2011 12:49 AM | Report abuse

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