Monday, January 9, 2012

Flip the Script

by Ben

The Washington Wizards are 0-8 and have less talent than the cast of Work It.  They have no offensive identity, and the players have a sense of entitlement due to years of enabling by the coaching staff and front office.  The team is unmotivated, uninterested, and have the worst body language in the NBA.  Ted Leonsis was at the game on Sunday vs. the Timberwolves and had a courtside seat to this inferior product that he so courageously inherited from the Pollins.  A LOT needs to change in order for this franchise to get going in the right direction, and it is time for Teddy Owner’s Box to make the first major changes during his reign as Czar of the Zards.

First on the docket is to fire President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Ernie Grunfeld.  Big Ern may have finagled a few quality trades during his tenure here in D.C, when he dealt Christian Laettner, Jerry Stackhouse, and the rights to Devin Harris for Antawn Jamison, and then swapping Kwame Brown for Caron Butler.  But life after the “Big 3” including what Grunfeld has done with this roster in the past 3-4 seasons is more insulting to a fan base than the effort of the Atlanta Falcons in yesterday’s game vs. the New York Giants.  Big Ern’s knack for making shrewd trades is vastly outweighed by his inability to obtain talent in the NBA Draft.  In 2006, Grunfeld drafted Oleksiy Pecherov over the likes of Rajon Rondo, Paul Millsap, hell even Renaldo Balkman.  In 2007, Ernie drafted Nick Young 16th overall over players such as Aaron Brooks, Wilson Chandler, Aaron Afflalo, and Rudy Fernandez. I can ridicule Ernie Grunfeld’s draft picks (Jan Vesely…seriously Ernie?) until I go cross eyed, but that would bore you all to tears and the story would end with me in a padded room, sitting on the ground, rocking back and forth talking to myself.  Ernie Grunfeld cannot scout young talent to save his life and has thus surrounded John Wall with a bunch of entitled hacks with zero work ethic and maturity. 

The second thing Ted Leonsis needs to do is relieve Flip Saunders of his duties as head basketball coach.  Notice how I did not say “FIRE” Flip Saunders, because he really does not deserve to be fired.  Flip Saunders made a name for himself in the NBA by guiding veteran teams to 50-60 win seasons and deep playoff runs.  He did it in Minnesota and Detroit and it made him the perfect fit for the 2009 Washington Wizards.  No one could have predicted the complete collapse of this team aided by injuries, guns, and feces filled Nikes.  When Flip signed his contract he signed on to coach a veteran team that was on the cusp of a deep playoff run and then it all fell apart.  Flip Saunders is not the right coach to lead a young team through a rebuilding project because he is mild-mannered and his personality translates more with veterans who already know how to conduct themselves.  This team is full of immature young players who have never been told they were wrong nor had they ever been chastised for their lack of hustle and effort.  Flip is just not that type of coach, and we have seen that with his treatment of Nick Young, JaVale McGee, and Andray Blatche.  Players like these three stooges, need to be sat down and berated from time to time to humble them and attempt to motivate them.  This just is not Flip Saunders’s style and we saw that when Blatche refused to go back into a game last year, yet was not suspended and started the very next game.  Flip Saunders deserves to be set free from this situation, which I like to call the nadir of his coaching career.  Teddy Owner’s Box needs to do what’s right and let Flip leave town, head up to Bristol to be a talking head for the rest of the season, and then guide a veteran team into the playoffs next year.

We feel your pain Flipper.

Teddy Owner’s Box needs to find a General Manager who knows how to scout talent and manipulate the draft.  The first name that comes to mind is former Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Kevin Pritchard, who is the current Director of Player Personnel for the Indiana Pacers.  With Pritchard as assistant GM and then head GM, the Trail Blazers drafted LeMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy (oh what could have been!), Nicholas Batum, and Rudy Fernandez.  Teddy Owner’s Box wants to build this team the same way he built the Capitals, through the draft and infused with young talent.  Pritchard is the guy that can discover and acquire this kind of young talent.  Acquiring a couple of veterans to mentor this young core of knuckleheads would also go a long way in turning around this fumbling franchise.

Once a new General Manager has settled into his new office, it will be on this guy to bring in a new head coach.  This head coach needs to be the Anti-Flip Saunders, this guys needs to be a real hard ass who is not afraid to get after his players and light a fire under them.  This young team has been told their whole lives how great they are so a nice slice of humble pie could do them all some good. We had a coach like that back in the day, but it was with the wrong roster and that is Doug Collins.  What he has done in Philadelphia is exactly what needs to be done here in D.C.  Jamal Mosley is an assistant with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and while I would never advocate for anything that came out of Cleveland, this guy has an edge to him that could be a perfect fit for the Wizards. The next head coach for the Wizards could also be sitting just two seats down from Flip Saunders, and that is former NBA point guard Sam Cassell.  He is not afraid to mix it up with the players and be a disciplinarian.  He was a strong leader when he played, and by all accounts has been a real asset to Flip's coaching staff.  Promoting Cassell would be a fine move that would really help this team.

The Washington Wizards have hit rock bottom. Period. This team needs a complete facelift worse than Lesley Visser. Teddy Owner’s Box has his hands full, but he is the right owner to get this ship turned around.  Now he needs to put his stamp on the rebuilding project by hiring a GM with a good player development background, a coach who has a reputation of being a disciplinarian, and last but not least…CHANGE THE TEAM’S NAME.

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