Here’s something interesting; almost immediately after Flip Saunders was fired, Andray Blatche went on the Mike Wise Show on 106.7 The Fan and offered a mature response, filled with introspection and self-awareness.
“He’s not a bad coach,” Blatche said. “It’s just that as a team, as players and him, we couldn’t get things together and win. Even though me and him had tough times together as a player and a coach, I still look at him as a great coach. He’s had great players and he’s done great things in his career. It’s just unfortunate the way the season is going. I can take some of the blame, the way I’m playing. I couldn’t even help him to keep his job or to get wins. So I just feel bad for him.”
Then Blatche was asked if it was harder for Saunders to deal with a team filled with youngsters.
“To me, he was just put in a tough position, dealing with the situation of rebuilding with young players,” Blatche agreed. “There’s gonna be rainy days before sunshine. We’re definitely playing better basketball; we’re actually playing good basketball, except for last night against the 76ers. We’ve just got to figure out how to close games now. Flip did a great job teaching the young players, trying to keep everybody together. Like I said, it’s unfortunate what happened to him.”
Holden Kushner asked Blatche if players had been tuning their head coach out; “Um, I can somewhat agree to that,” Blatche said. “I mean, kind of, somewhat.”
But Blatche refused to say that Saunders was the wrong coach for this team.
“Not at all,” he said. “He was just put in a tough spot with a whole bunch of young players.”
More from Blatche:
Whether he ever complained to management about Saunders: “No, I never ever went to ownership to complain about the coach, because that wasn’t my place. If anything, I’d complain about myself, as I said on Twitter or in the paper before, but I never complained about him.”
Why he disagreed with Saunders in the past: “I mean, me and Flip had our problems in the past, but most of our problems came from miscommunication or something he thought I said or done. We had meetings and talked and it ended up not being the case. So between me and him there was nothing ever personal.”
Whether he was being critical of Saunders after the first game: “Definitely not, definitely not. I was just saying to help us win in that situation, at that point of time in the game, I should have stayed closer [to the basket]. I’m not saying the plays that he had for us was wrong. I was just saying that I wasn’t feeling it that night, maybe we should try something else. And after that, that’s when I believe everything for me just went south.”
Whether the team will now improve: “It’s hard to say. I mean, Randy Wittman was an assistant coach. He’s the same coach as with Flip. I’m quite sure Randy Wittman wouldn’t come in the locker room and allow certain things to happen that Flip wouldn’t. I feel that now players are gonna have to step up more than ever, because they no longer can say the problem is the coaching. You can’t say that now, because if we come out and we’re still playing the same way, then maybe it’s the players.”
Better than avoiding the friendzy, that’s for sure.