Flip Saunders was hired in 2009 to take a good Washington Wizards team — led by the “Big Three” of Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler — to the playoff promised land. But those three players are long gone, and now so is Saunders: He was fired this past week after accumulating a dismal 51-130 record (including a 2-15 start this year) with a team of misfits that has turned the franchise into the laughingstock of the NBA.
If you had to pick one moment that encapsulates Saunders’s latest season, it’s JaVale McGee’s alley-oop to himself in the third quarter of a loss — shocker! — to the Houston Rocketsthis month. McGee’s tone-deaf response was even worse than the dunk itself. “Apparently, if you get a fast break and throw it off the backboard in the third quarter and you’re 1-11, you’re not supposed to do stuff like that,” he said. Right. You’re not.
Saunders, who came to Washington as one of the steadiest winners in pro basketball, was clearly exasperated at his inability to wrangle his players into any semblance of a team. Said Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeldin announcing Saunders’s removal: “I felt like at this time our players were not responding . . . I think we needed a different voice.” Translated: The players didn’t listen to Flip.
Flip Saunders, for signing up to coach the Big Three and ending up with JaVale and the Tone Deafs, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at firstname.lastname@example.org.