NBA Roundtable

Wizards Hire Flip

In Coaches Corner on April 14, 2009 at 8:14 am

Yahoo Sports reports

Flip Saunders has reached a verbal agreement on a four-year, $18 million contract to become coach of the Washington Wizards, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Monday.

While terms have been agreed upon, sources says, the deal won’t be finalized until Saunders returns a signed contract to Washington. Nevertheless, the two sides have completed most of the negotiations.

Saunders was telling associates on Monday that he is accepting the job, and team officials are planning to introduce him at a news conference early next week.

Appearantly, Saunders has been a long term target for the club

Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld and assistant GM Tommy Sheppard have been courting Saunders for several months, and sources say that the framework of an agreement has been in place since the All-Star break.

Was Flip Saunders at the Wizards training camp this past summer? I vaugely remember something like that. Anyway ….

Also, Sam Cassell is rumoured to be joining Flip’s coaching staff

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Saunders plans to hire veteran NBA guard Sam Cassell as an assistant coach.

Great choice by Saunders. I think Sammy will make a terrific coach and he’ll be a great help to Gilbert Arenas since Cassell has been in those same shoes … running Flip’s offense in Minnesota all the way to the Conference Finals.

Good Move, Bad Move?

So, is Flip Saunders a good hire? A bad hire? What?

It’s a good decision by Washington.

It’s not an inspired choice, or a reach for the stars type of coach, but Flip knows his business and does it really well. Saunders has been found lacking at the highest level, and that’s likely to continue, to dismay of Wizards fans … but he is a good coach and he’ll get the team back into working order.

Which player may be most affected by this appointment?

Gilbert Arenas

Flip Saunders gives his point guards a lot of responsibily and allows them to have the ball in their hands, and to make a lot of decisions. Arenas will be asked to be more of a floor general than he ever has before.

Are the Wizards a sleeper in the East next season?

Not at this point. They’re just a good team with a lot of firepower.

However, the Wizards could change a fair bit over the summer. Their high lottery pick will be their best asset, then their plethora of young talent off the bench, and they also possess some good trade assets. This team has a lot of options and could make some important moves over the summer.

Any type of changes in particular that they need focus on? Yep, defense. The Wizards can’t win until they play better defense.

Any other Flip related notes?

Flip Saunders is a good development coach. He puts players in positions where they can be successful and allows their comfort level to grow. He could be very useful in developing those young Wizards off the bench.

How well the Wizards youngsters progress will likely decide how useful a bench they’ll have next season.


The Wizards released this statement

“Nothing done or agreed upon. Someone jumping the gun,” the team said in a statement to the Washington Post.

The deal still looks very likely to go through.


A quote from John Thompson on the Flip appointment

According to Hall of Fame coach John Thompson, the biggest question mark hovering over the Wizards has nothing to do with the coaching hire.

“Flip is not somebody that you need to question his coaching ability. He’s a proven NBA coach,” Thompson said. “He’s a reputable coach, and he will help the Wizards, but the question has never been about coaching. The Wizards need to be healthy more than anything else. If all these guys are healthy together, they’ll have a pretty respectable team.”

The underlined part of the quote is the story behind the story. That’s why Washington wanted Saunders.

%d bloggers like this: