Sticking to defensive principles is a big difference from the Wizards of the past. Haywood and his teammates said one of their problems under Eddie Jordan was inconsistent strategy.
Jordan had his defense but brought in assistant Randy Ayers to teach a new scheme, only to switch back when the team was struggling. Later, the players recalled, they returned to Ayers' system.
Flip Saunders, Wizards. Chance at succeeding: Excellent. Saunders is a gifted offensive coach who is well-known for his extensive, creative playbook. That will fit well with the high-scoring Wizards, assuming they are healthy (Gilbert Arenas especially) and productive. Saunders has a wide array of weapons at his disposal and should be able to push the team’s offense near the top of the league. But one thing Saunders does especially well—and he doesn’t get much credit for it—is formulate defensive schemes that can hide his team’s weaknesses. He has long been on the forefront of employing zones in the NBA, and should be able to come up with something that bolsters what has been a shoddy Wizards defense.
A team source said Washington will be looking to hire someone with NBA experience and a solid track record -- a list that'll likely include Flip Saunders, Avery Johnson, Maurice Cheeks, Sam Mitchell and Mike Fratello.
I guess the final argument in favor of Natt would be this: look at Washington. No offense to Ed Tapscott, who I understand to be a complete gentleman. But the Wizards have run roughshod all over him. Every account of their locker room has kangaroos bounding through the showers, confetti swirling through the HVAC vents and Pixie Stix replacing orange wedges. The second-worst team in the league has had a party this season on Abe Pollin's dime. Again, by all accounts, no one but two veterans gives a damn about the Wizards right now. A cornucopia of me me mes.
"If you look at Caron, Antawn and Mike James, they are getting 35, 37, 38 minutes, so I'm not overly concerned with putting young guys in just to put young guys in. We're trying to give them a chance to grow up and learn to play, but not at the expense of winning basketball games. So they have to contribute."
"I told those guys, 'This is a meritocracy,' " Tapscott said. "I tell them, 'You get what you merit. Everything is earned in this league. You earn veteran status, you earn veteran minutes. There are no grants coming into this league and the other thing is, you can't transfer in the NBA. So I you're not happy about it, you'll have to earn your minutes.' "
"I'm going to take a little blame for Nick's troubles," Tapscott said. "I've had him thinking a little too much. Sometimes you can stress execution, execution, execution and what that does is force a guy to start thinking about everything he does. Some guys [are] better just playing in the flow, so I gave him the release today. I told him, I'm going to play the full segment and leave you alone and let you play."
Interesting chatter in the media room tonight among media types: Eddie Jordan won't get the Philly job and Wes Unseld Jr. might be in the process of being groomed as the next coach of the Wiz kids.
Well, you know, we give guys a chance. And the opportunity is there for them. And if you give great effort, you get the benefit of the doubt. But if it's not enough effort there, and it wasn't sincere effort, then you're not going to play.
Folks are asking about Coach Eddie Jordan's status. Here's my read: unless Ernie Grunfeld experienced a major change of heart the last few days, I think he's safe. He's under contract and folks all over the league feel that he and his staff did a great job with an injury-ravaged team this season. I know folks are emotional about this whole thing and want major changes now but take a deep breath and ask yourself a serious question: are any of these coaches who are out there better than Jordan? Another: did any other playoff coach go through what Jordan did this season with the injuries and an ownership that refused to budge on the luxury tax, thus forcing him to consistently practice with seven or eight bodies? I've covered this team for three full seasons now and feel that Eddie did his best work this season. That said, folks are free to disagree.