If you were trying to names coaches on the hot seat early this season, Flip Saunders name would come to mind. Because his Wizards squad is the lone winless team in the NBA, for one. Because even with John Wall and JaVale McGee in the lineup the Wizards have the very worst offense in the NBA so far (just 92.4 points per 100 possessions). Because the defense isn’t very good either. Because filling out the lineup card right escaped him.
But no, Saunders seat is pretty tepid.
Saunders was given the mandate to play the youngsters and take the lumps by management, so they are not going to fire him over the lumps.
Here is what owner Ted Leonsis wrote on his blog Wednesday in a post titled “Going as I expected.”
We are now 0 and 5 – but we are starting to play more as a team; and with more intensity and confidence. We have now started to get contributions from many players and I believe the team will now settle in and start to become more productive….
As I have noted many times before – the process we are undergoing will be quite difficult – it is messy; it is painful; but we have no other course of action to pursue; we have chosen to build through the draft – manage our cap space wisely and build a team for the long term around young players. We will make trades at the right time; we will keep our players that form our core long term; we will add free agents when we believe it is the right time. That is the plan.
It’s a good plan.
But the team has to show some growth and pick up wins at some point. I’m not suggesting Saunders should be on the hot seat, but if this team and it’s young core do not start to show some of that growth over the course of this season, the temperature of the chair should rise.
And please let this team run. Please. Wall is best in the open court, McGee and Andray Blatche can finish, and when Nick Young is healthy he is a great fit at that pace. But the Wizards are mired at 13th in the league in pace. Average. Pedestrian. Part of it is the defense but this team just needs to run like the wind every chance it gets.
Of course, what is going on in Washington is more than that. There are a lot of issues. Even the rookie from Europe recognizes things are not good. Here is what Jan Vesely told the Washington Post.
“It’s tough to sit on the bench and see the players, they are playing and they are playing bad,” Vesely said. “Of course, I want to try to help the team.”
It’s all just something to watch going forward.