If the last week's blizzard taught us anything, it's that the best way to stay warm in Washington D.C. is to stay near Randy Wittman's seat, because it's always nice and toasty. After putting together a four-game winning streak to get the Wizards back within reach of the playoff picture, the Wizards have dropped four of their last five, including listless losses to Boston and Toronto.
With the way the team has struggled and seemingly reverted back to the way they played when they struggled last season, you can understand why a new round of "Fire Wittman" chants has sprung up. Ben Mehic put together a strong case for why the Wizards should move on over at Wiz of Awes:
Nothing Randy Wittman has done recently makes sense. It’s as if he’s coaching to get fired. If that’s his goal, then he’s certainly on his way to accomplishing it. Now, I’m not saying that much would change if Wittman gets fired, but there’s no logical reason to keep him around anymore.
I respect what Wittman has done for the team. He’s one of the primary reasons why the Washington Wizards are no longer a complete joke. The team’s culture has changed because they bought into whatever he was originally selling. But the league has evolved and Wittman has stopped.
Everyone in the "Fire Wittman" camp has strong arguments, and they should certainly be discussed at the end of the season, but now isn't the right time to make a decision on Wittman's future. Before you run him out of town, ask yourselves the following questions:
Who is going to take Randy Wittman's spot?
Remember, guys like David Blatt, Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau aren't going to take a new job now when they can wait until the offseason to see what positions become available. That means the Wizards will need to promote from within, whether it's appointing someone from Wittman's staff, or shifting Ed Tapscott into the role since he's been the Wizards' interim coach before.
Does anyone on Randy Wittman's staff have NBA head coaching experience?
No, unless you count Tapscott, who currently serves as the Wizards' Vice President of Player Programs.
So ... would anyone be an upgrade over Randy Wittman in the short term?
Probably not. Even if you don't put much stock into what Brian Windhorst had to say about how the league views the team's coaching staff, it's not like anyone there is going to have a radically different coaching philosophy because they're part of the Randy Wittman coaching tree.
The best case scenario here is that one of the assistants can execute Randy Wittman's vision in a way the players respond to better. The more likely scenario is the Wizards show a little more spark early under a new coach, but it gets snuffed out as other teams learn how to exploit the new coach's inexperience.
What would firing the coach say to Kevin Durant?
It's not a good look, but it's not any worse than anything else the team has done this season.
What would firing the coach say to John Wall?
This is the most important question. Wall is still young, but he's getting to that point in his career where he's starting to realize he won't be young forever. With that in mind, the Wizards need to make sure they're making the most of his prime. Certainly, some of Wittman's coaching decisions haven't helped make the most of Wall's prime, but at the same time, what is Wall going to think if the Wizards decide to punt on the second half of the season by getting rid of their head coach?
It would stand to reason that since Randy Wittman is still around, John Wall has not asked for him to be fired yet. And if that's the case, why make a move? Wall would probably feel more disrespected by the team punting on the season than he would be by the team continuing to try and make it work with Wittman this season.
Randy Wittman is responsible for a significant part of the team's struggles this season, and there will be plenty of time at the end of the season to determine a new strategy for the future. But as for right now, the person best equipped to salvage the current mess and keep it from turning into something worse is still Randy Wittman.