Apr 23, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards head coach Randy Wittman reacts during the game against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Verizon Center. The Wizards defeated the Bobcats 101 - 73. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
UPDATE: The Wizards told Scott Jackson that nothing has been finalized yet with Wittman's future, which squares with what I was told earlier.
Spoke with #Wizards tonight and they want to make it clear nothing official on the Randy Wittman as head coach next season.(continued)— Scott Jackson(@JacksonSports) May 29, 2012
The sense I'm getting, from my conversation with a Wizards source (see below) and this news, is that Wittman will likely return, but the Wizards are giving themselves some wiggle room with the particulars since Wittman is technically under contract next year. When Grunfeld says Wittman is "under contract" for next year, he's referring to the fact that all of Flip Saunders' assistants signed two-year contracts prior to this year. (Saunders' original four-year contract prior to the 2009-10 year was a four-year deal with a team option for the fourth year, so the Wizards aren't on the hook for his salary).
The source I spoke to compared this situation to Scott Brooks' in Oklahoma City and Frank Vogel's in Indiana. The latter's status was up in the air for several months during the lockout until he was finally given the job for this season.
UPDATE: I was told by a Wizards source that nothing with Wittman has been finalized yet, to the best of the source's knowledge. The source seemed surprised to hear about Grunfeld's interview with ESPN 980.
ORIGINAL POST: In a move that has become more and more of an inevitable one as the days have gone on, Randy Wittman will be the Washington Wizards' head coach next season, general manager Ernie Grunfeld told ESPN 980's Scott Jackson. Wittman will return after posting an 18-31 record after taking over for Flip Saunders in mid-January.
"I've said it all along, Randy has done a very good job. The players responded to him very well. He and I work well together and the players like him. Randy is under contract as well as the rest of our staff. "
The news isn't surprising because the Wizards haven't been involved in any coaching rumors since the season ended. Once Ted Leonsis made the decision to give general manager Ernie Grunfeld a two-year contract extension, it ushered in the path for Wittman to return as well. Grunfeld has repeatedly said that he thought Wittman did a good job with the team last year.
Under Wittman, the Wizards improved, cutting out some bad habits that developed during Saunders' tenure. On the other hand, Wittman's previous coaching record doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, as he had just a 100-207 record prior to this year. Wittman was fired in 2001 after winning 62 games in two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, then was let go in the middle of the 2008-09 year after a 40-105 record with the Timberwolves.
We'll have much more reaction to the news in the coming days.