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Posted at 2:31 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Flip Saunders misses practice, status uncertain for Golden State

By Michael Lee

Wizards Coach Flip Saunders missed another practice on Tuesday to tend to his ailing 90-year-old mother, Kay, in suburban Cleveland. Saunder's availability is in question for Wednesday's game against the Golden State Warriors

With Saunders gone, assistant Randy Wittman ran the film session and a lengthy practice. Afterward, Wittman challenged the players to "look yourselves in the mirror and promise to bust you [tail] for these last 23 games."

The practice served as the first for newcomers Jordan Crawford and Maurice Evans, who played three games with the benefit of just one shootaround after arriving from Atlanta in the Kirk Hinrich deal. Evans, an eight-year veteran, said it was a new experience for him.

"Nah, I've never been in a situation like that. The closest I've come to that is All-American games growing up," he said with a smile. "But obviously, games didn't mean much then, so never at this level. You cant prepare for a situation like this in my opinion."

Crawford is learning to adjust to playing two positions, as the Wizards plan to use him some at backup point guard. "Learned a lot of the plays, competed with the guys, showed the coaches, a little bit what I could do. It felt good," Crawford said. "The coaches had confidence just to put me in before practice. So it was kind of like, not scrimmaging, but they was letting me be more free every time I got it and said call pick and roll, so we can get some movement, because I don't know the plays. Now I know the plays a little bit, it should be good tomorrow."

Mustafa Shakur also had his first practice since being signed for the rest of the season. Shakur had signed two 10-day contracts but rarely practiced with his teammates with the high volume of back-to-back games on the schedule. He waited in Philadelphia while the team tried to work out a buyout with Mike Bibby.

"Any time it's out of your hands and you can't control it, it's tough," Shakur said of the wait, adding that he's excited about returning. "I figure it's a great opportunity, something I've waited for a long time. I'm going to try my best to take full advantage of it and continue to learn and get better each day with the coaching staff."

Cartier Martin missed practice with a sprained right ankle.

By Michael Lee  | March 1, 2011; 2:31 PM ET
Categories:  Flip Saunders, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans, Mike Bibby, Mustafa Shakur  
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Next: John Wall wins Eastern Conference rookie of the month again

Comments

There we go again. Instead of getting players for each position, we are ALWAYS playing guys out of their natural position and you wonder WHY WE CAN'T FRIGGIN WIN!! Ground Hog day. Wake me up next season.

Posted by: ivyleague | March 1, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

What difference does it make it this team practices or not? They can play just as bad either way.

Posted by: postcrud | March 1, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Did I miss something. I know that Wittman took over the first time Saunders was out, but did anyoneelse besides me get the impression at one point or another that Sam Cassell was the first assistant on this Team?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 1, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Did I miss something. I know that Wittman took over the first time Saunders was out, but did anyoneelse besides me get the impression at one point or another that Sam Cassell was the first assistant on this Team?
LarryInClintonMD.

Don't know if it's just you, but it's always been pretty clear to me that Wittman was his #2 guy.

Posted by: ts35 | March 1, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Cassell was never the lead assistant. There was nothing other than unsubstantiated fan daydreaming that could have given that impression.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 1, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

"Don't know if it's just you, but it's always been pretty clear to me that Wittman was his #2 guy."

He's next in line.

Thing is I like him better then Flip. The players always seem to respond better to him.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | March 1, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Thing is I like him better then Flip. The players always seem to respond better to him.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | March 1, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how people just forget how JaVale snapped on him last week. Only dealings with Wittman was that one game he coached...all of a sudden they respond better to him? Really?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | March 1, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Knicks cut Corey Brewer. I would rather have him on the roster than Martin, Crawford, Bibby or Evans.

Posted by: dcinmd1 | March 1, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

And there was a game a few weeks ago where McGee made a late game blunder (shock! awe!) and the camera showed Wittman ripping him a new one on his way back to the bench during the ensuing timeout.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 1, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"Knicks cut Corey Brewer. I would rather have him on the roster than Martin, Crawford, Bibby or Evans."

Posted by: dcinmd1 | March 1, 2011 3:42 PM

So would the Celtics, which is where he's likely going to end up.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 1, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Also, in the coaching comparison carousel, when Thibs took over Chicago they were already a 500 team. They got rid of and traded players and remade the Team.

Now they are pushing Boston/Miami for the best record in the East and some are even saying they can come out of the East.

Mr. Collins and Mr. Thibs seem to have been a huge boon to their Teams winning percentages/records.

Other coaching changes around the League seem to have been mostly a positive influence rather than a negative one.

Here with the Wizards, though we are rebuilding, it really perplexes me why we still have some to say that a coaching change for us would not have yielded a more exciting positive influence on our rebuilding effort.

And I say a positive influence, for IMO one cannot say that thus far, that Flip has been a positive influence or even the right coach for our rebuilding efforts.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 1, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

But is Randy just a Flip clone, or is he really his own man? I accept that yeah, I'm probably wrong that Sam was ever the top guy next in line. But wasn't the reports when Flip was hired that Sam Cassel would be coming with him and Wittman got hired after Cassel.

Or, do I have this wrong as well?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 1, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

So would the Celtics, which is where he's likely going to end up.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 1, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I guess he not looking for any playing time then. He not going to get an run with the Celtics. And if he was that talented the Knicks would have used him.

Posted by: dcinmd1 | March 1, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Doug Collins has Philly back where they should have been a .500 team.

Indiana...should have been better than they were.

Chicago was expected to be where they are this season after signing Boozer...

Do you watch basketball Larry?

We're one of the only teams in the NBA in our position right now. So to keep comparing to other teams is borderline retarded. They're 60 games into a completely destruction of the team.

And you're upset they aren't winning?

Riddle me this: What would you like to see ANOTHER coach do with this roster?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | March 1, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

got 4 tix for GS off stub hub for $1, that's about how much I'd pay to see these Wizards "Live". I sooooooooooo hope Flip takes another personal day tomorrow.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 1, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"I guess he not looking for any playing time then. He not going to get an run with the Celtics. And if he was that talented the Knicks would have used him."

Posted by: dcinmd1 | March 1, 2011 3:57 PM

I guess you don't follow NBA reporting then. The Celtics have been looking for a rotation quality backup swingman ever since Marquis Daniels went down with a neck injury a few weeks ago and multiple news sources have reported that they're interested in Brewer.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 1, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Riddle me this: What would you like to see ANOTHER coach do with this roster?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | March 1, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Chokeslam the staters on the way to the bench. LOL Or at least pimp slap them.

Coaching change is not going to result in much at this point. IE see the last 5 in season coaching changes the Wizards/Bullets made. I listed the last 5 in season coaching changes they made about a month ago.

This team is just horrible no matter who is running the ship.

Posted by: dcinmd1 | March 1, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Riddle me this: What would you like to see ANOTHER coach do with this roster?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | March 1, 2011 3:58 PM

It is really quite simple Coach. Instill a winning attitude and evidence of a smartly coached Team.

First and foremost.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 1, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

hopefully we can get some continuity in. We are on pace to win fewer games than last year. We would have to around .500 the last 23 games just to get to 26 wins. Bombing the last few games doesn't win you the lottery for #1 as NJ and Sac has shown.

Posted by: jefferu | March 1, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I guess you don't follow NBA reporting then. The Celtics have been looking for a rotation quality backup swingman ever since Marquis Daniels went down with a neck injury a few weeks ago and multiple news sources have reported that they're interested in Brewer.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 1, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I think we discuss this last week when they went out and got a swingman Jeff Green. They have west and wafer who can play the backup two. Not sure where Brewer will fit in.

Is a guy who can not even crack the Timberwolves starting line up make that much of a difference for the Celtics?

I think not, when two team bascially gave up on him already this year.

Posted by: dcinmd1 | March 1, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

It is really quite simple Coach. Instill a winning attitude and evidence of a smartly coached Team.

First and foremost.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 1, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

That would take...winning right? To develop a winning attitude? NO YOUNG TEAM IN THE NBA WINS. EVER. It's gonna take 2 years minimum.

You see what you want to see. Any positives or improvement from any player is by magic or coincidence...not coaching, in spite of Flip and anything negative is a direct result of Flip.

Can't have it both ways.

Any coaching you take as wrong...like your "Let JaVale run the break" campaign.

Can't forget the "JaVale is so good and athletic that his mistakes are actually correct and we just can't see it with the naked eye" campaign.

If the Wizards won 20 straight to finish the season you would start the "They tuned out Flip and decided to do whatever they wanted and that's why they won." campaign.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | March 1, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Also, in the coaching comparison carousel, when Thibs took over Chicago they were already a 500 team. They got rid of and traded players and remade the Team.

Now they are pushing Boston/Miami for the best record in the East and some are even saying they can come out of the East.

Mr. Collins and Mr. Thibs seem to have been a huge boon to their Teams winning percentages/records.

LarryInClintonMD.

Yeah! Thibs has them winning up to 20 more games than last year! Of course, they have two cornerstones -- one of whom is an MVP candidate -- coming into their own. Of course, they signed Boozer -- the inside presence everyone has recognized for years that they've needed. But it's totally and completely the coaching change. Good call, as usual, Larry.

Btw, if the Sixers subscribed to your coaching philosophy for this year, they would have fired Collins a long time ago during their sluggish start.

Posted by: ts35 | March 1, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

But is Randy just a Flip clone, or is he really his own man? I accept that yeah, I'm probably wrong that Sam was ever the top guy next in line. But wasn't the reports when Flip was hired that Sam Cassel would be coming with him and Wittman got hired after Cassel.

Or, do I have this wrong as well?

LarryInClintonMD.

No idea who was hired when, but it's sort of immaterial to who holds which position. Sam wasn't hired to be the lead assistant, Wittman was.

Posted by: ts35 | March 1, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Any coach that hires a coach with NO coaching experience as his lead assistant is an idiot.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | March 1, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Flip is simply not the problem. The guys on this roster are the problem. Specifically Blatche and I'm going to add McGee just does some of the silliest sh** you will ever see done by a 7 footer.. It's like his brain just locks..

Then he has an attitude when the coaching staff sits him down...what a clown...

Posted by: kevenjones | March 1, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I didn't realize they practiced. It certainly does not show!

Posted by: VaBroker | March 1, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"Sam wasn't hired to be the lead assistant, Wittman was."

Maybe Sam is the first assistant to the first assistant?

Posted by: Samson151 | March 1, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"Any coach that hires a coach with NO coaching experience as his lead assistant is an idiot.Posted by: SDMDTSU"

But..but.. the fans have actually HEARD of Sam! He had success as a player! He's from Baltimore! Ergo, he must be the first assistant! Heck, he must be head coach in waiting! Oh shoot, just fire Flip now and put Sam in charge! Then after the season we can get him fired and call for them to hire Pat Ewing!

Posted by: Samson151 | March 1, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

You have to be happy before you can succeed.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | March 1, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"I think we discuss this last week when they went out and got a swingman Jeff Green. They have west and wafer who can play the backup two. Not sure where Brewer will fit in.

Is a guy who can not even crack the Timberwolves starting line up make that much of a difference for the Celtics?

I think not, when two team bascially gave up on him already this year."

Posted by: dcinmd1 | March 1, 2011 4:13 PM

Green is primarily a 4. He can spot some minutes at the three, but he isn't a ballhandler and struggles to defend against quick 3's on the perimeter. With Robinson gone, West is going to see the bulk of his minutes at the backup PG slot. And Wafer is only good for spot up bombs (and is only seeing the floor because of Daniels' injury).

And who, exactly, said anything about Brewer "mak(ing) that much of a difference for the Celtics"? Really, that's not rhetorical. I want to know who said it. Clearly you must think someone said it, since you're basing your entire argument on disputing it. But I know full well I never said it, so I'd like to know who did. What I said was "So would the Celtics, which is where he's likely going to end up" and "multiple news sources have reported that they're interested in Brewer." There's nothing in there that could reasonably or rationally be interpreted as saying he's going to be a big difference maker. All I said was that, based on what's been reported, he's likely headed to the Celtics, and it appears you have nothing to say that actually disputes that. So, again I ask, who said it? And why aren't you having this argument with them?

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 1, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

@ts35,

So, do you really want to assert that a 20-game swing is just because of the point guard and Boozer who was out with injury for awhile.

A 20-game swing that is growing has or isn't due to a large part of the direction and ingenuity of one Mr. Thibs'.

You see that is my problem with some aspects of the board. Some put way too much emphasis on it being the players, rather negatively or positively.

I on the other hand see the players and coaching being inherently intertwined and the two cannot really be separated.

I give Thibs, Collins, Drew, Silas, just as much credit as the players and when you see a Team that performs as badly as the Zards, rebuilding or not, the coach gets his share of the stinking pie as well.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 1, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"Or, do I have this wrong as well?"

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 1, 2011 3:55 PM |

Well, the safe bet is to just assume you do and go from there. Really, the odds of that being the right call are astronomically good.

Wittman and Saunders are long-time friends and he was Saunders' lead assistant for 5 years when Flip was coach in Minnesota. He probably would have been the lead assistant in Detroit, except when Flip got fired by the Wolves, Whitman got the head coaching job (from which he was fired less than 30 games into his second season).

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 1, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Check that:

When Saunders was fired in Minnesota, Dwayne Casy got the head job (after a cameo by McHale) and kept Wittman on as assistant. When Casey was fired, Wittman got the head job.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 1, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

So, do you really want to assert that a 20-game swing is just because of the point guard and Boozer who was out with injury for awhile.

A 20-game swing that is growing has or isn't due to a large part of the direction and ingenuity of one Mr. Thibs'.

You see that is my problem with some aspects of the board. Some put way too much emphasis on it being the players, rather negatively or positively.

I on the other hand see the players and coaching being inherently intertwined and the two cannot really be separated.

I give Thibs, Collins, Drew, Silas, just as much credit as the players and when you see a Team that performs as badly as the Zards, rebuilding or not, the coach gets his share of the stinking pie as well.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 1, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

The point guard? Derrick Rose is a certified MVP candidate. Top 5 player in the league now. You serious? Boozer missed 17 games...and Noah missed some too. They play defense and have the personnel to do it.

They won 41 last season...added a 20/10 low post guy that they needed and Derrick Rose is STILL getting better. Sure the coach's defensive schemes are pretty much universally praised....

It sure helps when you have a top 5 player on your team to make you look good.

Ask Mike Brown.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | March 1, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

@ts35,

So, do you really want to assert that a 20-game swing is just because of the point guard and Boozer who was out with injury for awhile.

A 20-game swing that is growing has or isn't due to a large part of the direction and ingenuity of one Mr. Thibs'.
LarryInClintonMD.

Depends, Larry, do you want to assert that Miami's improvement this year is largely due to the coaching ingenuity of Erik Spoelstra? Do you really want to argue that adding a 19p /10rb low post scorer to Chicago has less impact than the coaching change? For the record, they were 10-8 before Boozer came back.......

You see that is my problem with some aspects of the board. Some put way too much emphasis on it being the players, rather negatively or positively.

I on the other hand see the players and coaching being inherently intertwined and the two cannot really be separated.

And yet you consistently argue that everything good that happens with the Wizards is to the players credit and everything wrong is the coach's fault. Meanwhile, for you anything that goes well on any other team is to the coach's credit, not the players'.

I give Thibs, Collins, Drew, Silas, just as much credit as the players and when you see a Team that performs as badly as the Zards, rebuilding or not, the coach gets his share of the stinking pie as well.

Larry, I am all in favor of, and have stated consistently that the record the Wiz have right now is equally on the coaches and the players. You, sir, have not. Other than Hinrich, I cannot recall an instance of you faulting a Wizard player for anything. You even blame the players' lack of effort on the coaches.

I think Thib has done a good job with the Bulls and will be a good fit for them going forward. But it certainly helps when you have the horses does it not?

Posted by: ts35 | March 1, 2011 5:44 PM | Report abuse

With all the Bulls' personnel moves, does anyone think they'd be where they are if Flip was their coach instead of Thibodeau? HTG, if casual observers disrespect Flip, how can the players? I fail to see that he brings anything positive to the equation. Sure, the Wiz might stink under another man, but a better man might offer the prospect of improvement as the roster gets better. Does anyone see the team getting better under Flip, even if the roster improves?

He had a veteran team, and lost with that. Now he has a young team, and he's losing with that. Meanwhile, you have players giving up millions just to avoid playing here. Yes, the team has cap room, but if people are basically willing to pay to get out of town if they have ANY options, what good players stand to come here, even if their teams have to cut them for cap reasons in a new CBA? Besides, Ted says Wiz is building through the draft (and say goodbye to a 2007 1st rounder in Al Thornton).

Posted by: gbooksdc | March 1, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

@ts35,

I do to a large degree fault mainly the direction and the system of the coaching. But it is mainly in direct result of the barrage against the players.

Those that are highly critical of the players are the first to holla rebuilding as well. You can't have it both ways. If you're are really accepting that you are rebuilding then you also have to accept the mistakes along the way of the players.

If you don't have the right players yet, then you have a bad architect. The last I checked in order to rebuild, you can't rebuild with the wrong materials.

If we are constantly hollering that everything must go besides Wall and Young, then we aren't really rebuilding yet, are we?

So, what is this charade really all about? The whole pie, the whole enchilada stinks, the coaching right along with it. Eh!

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 1, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Flip had that team last season with vets for what 30 games or so? How did Miami look after 30 this season? And we sure didn't have LeBron or D-Wade...not even Bosh.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | March 1, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I do to a large degree fault mainly the direction and the system of the coaching. But it is mainly in direct result of the barrage against the players.

Hmm, and yet I have never heard you react to the barrage against the coaching. In fact, you're often leading it.

Those that are highly critical of the players are the first to holla rebuilding as well. You can't have it both ways. If you're are really accepting that you are rebuilding then you also have to accept the mistakes along the way of the players.

Not really, no. If we accept that we're rebuilding, should we accept individual mistakes by Hinrich or Lewis? Of course not. Both are vets. They should know better. But then, where's the line? When do rookie mistakes by McGee or AB become no longer acceptable in your book? AB's in year 6, McGee in year 3. How many years does McGee need to play, and turnovers commit, before he realizes that trying to be the ball handler on the break is not the best idea? He's certainly been coached not to do it. Beyond that, mistakes in knowledge or execution might be understandable, but failure to give effort never is, be it a rookie or a 10 year vet.

If you don't have the right players yet, then you have a bad architect. The last I checked in order to rebuild, you can't rebuild with the wrong materials.

If we are constantly hollering that everything must go besides Wall and Young, then we aren't really rebuilding yet, are we?

Those two statements seem at odds with each other, Larry. You say you can't rebuild with bad materials, but then don't agree with people wanting to get rid of bad materials. Teams have to shuffle the pieces in order to get better. In fact, the two teams you've been holding up all day, the Bulls and the Sixers, did exactly that to improve their teams.

So, what is this charade really all about? The whole pie, the whole enchilada stinks, the coaching right along with it. Eh!
LarryInClintonMD.

Hmmm, so it seems like you're saying (now) that there are more problems with this team than just a coaching change would fix......Interesting........

Posted by: ts35 | March 1, 2011 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Flip, I hope your mom gets better.

It's ok to stay by her side for the rest of the season.

Posted by: squidward1 | March 1, 2011 9:02 PM | Report abuse

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