Eric Maynor said Coach Randy Wittman didn’t inform him before or during the game that he wasn’t going to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers last Saturday. But Maynor quickly learned that Wittman’s rotation had changed when Garrett Temple was the first guard off the bench to replace John Wall. Afterward, Wittman explained that he went with Temple to give the second unit a more solid defensive presence, something Maynor had yet to provide in the first eight games.
Maynor was the first player the Wizards signed in free agency, getting a commitment on the first day of the recruiting period. The Wizards (2-7) thought they had received an upgrade at the point guard position from A.J. Price, currently a backup for Tuesday’s opponent, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
But Maynor has been slow to deliver, with the Wizards experiencing a considerable drop-off whenever Wall takes a seat. Maynor is averaging just 3.0 points and 2.4 assists and the team has been outscored by 43 points in his 94 minutes.
“Any time you’re with a new team, it takes you a while to get used to it. New system. New coach. New city. All that stuff plays a factor, all the time when you go to a new team,” said Maynor, who expects his play and that of the team to improve. “It’s a long season. We’re nine games in. I think we just make mental mistakes. Not closing out games. Me personally, just haven’t really got my legs up under me. Like I said, it’s a long season. I know all that’s going to come. I just got to keep working. I’ve been working my butt off every day. And once I get the opportunity again, I’m going to be ready to go.”
Temple started 36 games last season and has the versatility to guard multiple positions in addition to playing backup point guard. Wittman said that he has been “searching” for consistent production and an identity from his bench. He recently spoke to Maynor about the switch.
“We talked. We’ve got to be more aggressive, both offensively and defensively,” he said. “That’s the main thing. I know with Garrett, he’s going to give me pressure 94 foot. That was something that we needed. Our second unit has to have a defensive philosophy. They got to make their offense from their defense. That’s the main thing.”
Maynor is still adjusting to a different environment and teammates, but he also isn’t used to playing on a struggling team after experiencing some success in Oklahoma City. “I’m not set with this losing. We got to change some things. we’ve been in every game. We just haven’t been pulling them out. Losing is not fun. Me and everybody else is tired of losing, so we’ve got to change it somehow.”
After the Timberwolves (7-4), the Wizards will face five opponents with losing records, but Maynor said the team can think too far ahead. “Look at our record. We can’t be worried about going to play somebody and looking at their record. We got to worry about ourselves. If we worry about ourselves, we’ll take care of business.”
Wittman was head coach in Minnesota for parts of three seasons, was a long-time assistant under Flip Saunders and Dwane Casey, and still maintains an offseason home in suburban Minneapolis. But Wittman said he wasn’t getting sentimental about facing the Timberwolves. “Once you’ve been at it 30 years, I’ve lost that fuzzy feeling. I’ve been with a lot of teams,” he said.
Wittman was the first coach for Kevin Love, who has emerged as an all-star and arguably the best power forward in the league. He’s averaging 26.8 points and 13.6 rebounds this season.
When Wittman was in Minnesota, he repeatedly told Love not to shoot three-pointers but that has become a lethal part of his offensive arsenal. “I’m past that now. That was a long time ago,” Love said before the game.