Yahoo's NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the Washington Wizards have fired Head Coach Flip Saunders 17 games into this lockout-shortened season. The decision to fire Saunders if this report is correct, does not come as a surprise, since the Wizards have lost 15 of those 17 games, often in embarrassing fashion. Seven of those fifteen losses have come by at least 15 points, including the team's most recent defeat, a 103-83 thrashing in Philadelphia by the 76ers. It was Washington's third straight loss and they remain the NBA's only winless team on the road, going 0-7 thus far.
It's pretty difficult to argue that Flip has not lost this team, though I also find it hard to believe anyone else will do much better. The talent on the team was badly over-estimated by the front office [and quite a few media observers] and most of the players seem to have almost no idea how to play NBA basketball -- including some who have been in the league for years.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports lead assistant head coach Randy Wittman will take over as head coach on an interim basis. Don Zierden and former NBA star Sam Cassell are also assistant coaches with the team. Wittman, who was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1983, but never played with the team, has previous NBA head coaching experience, going 4-19 with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2007. He was eventually fired and replaced by Kevin McHale.
Saunders was hired as the team's 22nd head coach on April 22, 2009, but failed to create a winner in Washington. That failure is understandable, of course, since the team he took over had a poor roster and it hasn't improved much, if at all, since. In fact, the roster today is worse than the one Saunders inherited, though it is also younger and cheaper. Saunders compiled a 51-130 record with the Wizards in more than two years. Ryan Saunders, the son of the head coach, is also an assistant with the team, though he will presumably depart with his father.
It is unclear if or how GM Ernie Grunfeld will keep his job after all this.