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Bill Simmons: Wizards should fire Randy Wittman

(By Matt Slocum / AP)

Some Wizards fans have, for weeks, been discussing the future of their head coach. With great passion, too. But that discussion hasn’t gained much mainstream media traction.

That changed on Thursday, when Grantland’s Bill Simmons up and called for Wittman to lose his job. Appearing on Tony Kornheiser’s ESPN 980 program, Simmons was asked about Wittman’s latest comments, focusing on his team’s lack of effort.

“That is an old-school philosophy, that all it is about is outworking the opponent, when I think that modern thinking would say it’s also about out-strategizing an opponent,” Kornheiser said. “So where are you on Randy Wittman and the Wizards?”

[Wittman keeps saying the Wizards need to try harder]

“I spent a year of my life with Doug Collins on [NBA] Countdown last year, who I loved,” Simmons said. “And we used to talk all the time about when people are mean to coaches — [that] this is the guy’s life, you’re talking about a guy’s livelihood, this is terrible.

“Randy Wittman should be fired,” Simmons then said. “Fired right now. This minute, he should be fired. He’s a terrible coach. He just is. He’s not a good coach. He’s not good at coaching basketball. You saw it last year: they got through Round One, got to Round Two and should have beaten the Pacers, and left that series on the table. They’re the easiest team to predict what they’re doing down the stretch.”

Now, there was a bit of laughter during all this. It didn’t seem particularly premeditated. And Simmons writes for his own Web site; if he wanted to officially call for Wittman’s job in print, he could probably have done so, rather than outsource his comments to a two-bit transcriber of local radio shows.

Still, he went on to talk about two of his friends who root for the Wizards but don’t support Wittman. He talked, as others have, about the dramatic improvements in Golden State after the Warriors hired Steve Kerr. And he repeated his initial thought.

“If you talk to any Wizards fan who just watches them, they’d drive [Wittman] to the airport,” Simmons said. “You know what they’re going to do. There’s no surprise. …You can feel it with the fans. There’s nothing more depressing right now than a Wizards home game. The crowd is just sitting there like ehhh. Uhhhh. It’s just terrible. I would get rid of the coach. As we’ve discussed, I like [Ted] Leonsis, [but] I think he needs to be a little more proactive as an owner.”

Then Kornheiser brought up a recent Leonsis blog post in which the owner dissected the team’s strategic failures — something that would have gotten quite a bit of attention had it come from another local owner.

The spacing on the floor is not positive right now as we lacked some three point shooting options, and teams are defending us by stacking the paint. To be out scored by 20 points at the free throw line last night is really indicative of how much we are struggling on the offensive end of the floor. In today’s NBA, three point shooting and foul shots are so very vital, running the floor to get lay ups as the efficient 2 point shot is also key. We haven’t been executing those sets well; and our record of late is concerning to all.

“Just fire him at that point,” Simmons said. “If I went publicly and just undercut a Grantland editor, at that point you’ve just got to move on. That’s bad leadership.”

“It seems to me that that’s what you do,” Kornheiser said. “You don’t sort of publicly warn someone like that and humiliate them.”

“No,” Simmons agreed. “If you’re a leader, you’ve got to protect everyone that’s underneath you, no matter what happens. And if you feel like somebody underneath you is not worthy of working for you, then get rid of that person.”

This, needless to say, goes beyond what virtually any local media member has even suggested. Jason Reid wrote recently that “the Wizards are lost, and Coach Randy Wittman appears to be asleep at the wheel.”

“Already in the NBA there are whispers coming down about Randy Wittman,” ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst previously said on ESPN 980. “And Ted Leonsis is famous for his patience, and I suspect his patience will last. But already I’ve got people in the league talking about how that job is going to maybe be open after this year.”

CSN Washington’s J. Michael, meanwhile, wrote that “coaching changes aren’t an option, has confirmed with multiple persons with knowledge of the situation including one who was definitive before [last] Saturday’s game.”