Flip Saunders Fired: Randy Wittman Suggests Things Need To Change

PHOENIX - FILE: Head coach Flip Saunders (R) of the Washington Wizards watches from the bench with Assistant coach Randy Wittman during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 19, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. According to reports January 24, 2012, the Washington Wizards have fired Saunders and Assistant coach Randy Wittman will take over as the head coach. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

I missed the press conference with Ernie Grunfeld and Randy Wittman just now in the wake of Flip Saunders' firing, but here are some notes I took while listening to the CSN Washington feed.

(Also see: Saunders' classy exit interview with Michael Lee of the Washington Post).

  • Ernie indicating the style of the team needs to change: "We need to play a style that complements their abilities. We have a long, athletic team that can get up and down a little more."
  • Ernie said it was his recommendation to Ted Leonsis, and he approved.
  • Ernie on how much last night's 20-point loss to the 76ers came into play: "It was cumulative. Last night, obviously, nobody is happy with, including players and everybody. We all felt it was time for different voice and do some different things to take advantage of the talent on the team."
  • Wittman on development: "I would have walked with him if I didn't believe this team could be better than what we are. There's got to be change. We've got to change. I'm not the miracle-worker here. We've got to change our outlook on how we play."
  • More Wittman on development: "Players get confused when development is used, but development happens on the practice floor. You have to earn what you get on the game floor."
  • Wittman on why fans should believe he can change things with him being Saunders' lead assistant: "This is a black mark on all of us, absolutely. Everybody has their own beliefs and philosophies on how to do it. The reason flip and i have been successful over the years is we're polar opposites." He said more but I missed it, then gave a weird quote saying "I'm not running against Romney. I'm not looking for votes."
  • Ernie: "If these players develop way we think they can, we can have, in a few years, a very competitive team."
  • Wittman on things he needs to change with the team's style: "Tempo is number one ... when you look at our team, last night, the stinker we had, there was a lot of John Wall walking the ball up the floor, going head-to-head, five-on-five, 85 percent of our possessions." He also said they need to get into their half-court sets quicker.
  • Wittman on John Wall: "I spoke to John. John's a big part of this. John has the ability i think to be a very, very good player. John has to now take what he has and not just think it's given to him. He is a talented player that I think I need to coach. He has to be willing to be coached. If he does that, that's where good players become great players." He then told a story about Isiah Thomas that I didn't follow. I actually don't think this is him calling John out per se, but I did find it weird that he had to point out that Wall "has to be willing to be coached."
  • UPDATE: disgrunted made a good point on that in the comments. I take back my concern.
  • Wittman on preparation: First, he said you can never prepare too much. Then, he said he wanted to keep things simple and not overload the players' heads. I don't think this is an outright contradiction, but I can see how it comes across that way.
  • Ernie closed by saying this is "a process most teams go through" and that "just because you're losing, you're not a loser." Both are head-scratching quotes.
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