Randy Wittman

It’s official, Randy Wittman to be retained as Wizards coach


We’ve known this is coming for days now, but Washington is about to make official they are making the safe play.

Monday afternoon the Washington Wizards will host a press conference to announce Randy Wittman will have the interim tag removed as coach and he will return with a two-year deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo was the first to report this.

It’s a move that will be welcomed by John Wall, who lobbied for it. But that’s only part of the reason he got the gig.

This was the safe, affordable play by Washington. They walked up to the tee and pulled out a three iron. Which is what ownership wanted to do right now.

Wittman was 18-31 as the interim coach in Washington, which included a nice little six-game winning streak to end the season. Wittman appeared to connect with and get more out of the roster than Flip Saunders (who he replaced 17 games into the season), he helped bring a little more discipline to a young team.

But this is not a game-changer hire. And Wittman is more affordable for a rebuilding franchise than bringing in a big name (Mike D’Antoni, Stan Van Gundy types). This is a team that will have Wall in his third season (when he needs to break out, but that’s another topic), Nene at center and whomever they get with the No. 3 pick (buzz is they want Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson). The franchise likely will be rid of Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche by next training camp.

Wittman’s getting a real chance, this could be a team on the rise in the East. We’ll see what he does with it. For the Wizards, it’s a safe iron play down the middle of the fairway.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

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China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.