WIZARDS RELIEVE SAUNDERS OF COACHING DUTIES
Lead Assistant Randy Wittman Named Head Coach
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has relieved Head Coach Flip Saunders of his duties. Randy Wittman will serve as the team’s head coach for the remainder of the 2011-12 season.
“We felt the team had become unresponsive and we will look to Randy to provide a different voice and a change in philosophy moving forward,” said Grunfeld. “We have been transparent in how we would evaluate our team this season and we were disappointed in the lack of development of our players at this point in our rebuilding plan.”
Saunders compiled a record of 51-130 (.392) during his two-plus seasons with the Wizards. He was originally hired on April 22, 2009 as the 22nd head coach in franchise history.
“We have struggled as a team at times this season, but we have also seen a great deal of potential from our young players and glimpses of what we can accomplish together as a team,” said Wittman. “The coaching staff will look to build on that by utilizing the length, athleticism and versatility of our roster to improve our defense and create more opportunities in the open court.”
Wittman begins his third stint as a head coach after leading both the Minnesota Timberwolves (2006-07 to 2008-09) and Cleveland Cavaliers (1999-2000 to 2000-01). He has compiled a 100-207 (.326) career record as head coach and has served as the Wizards’ lead assistant since the 2009-10 season. Wittman began his coaching career as an assistant with Indiana before stops as an assistant coach in Dallas and Orlando. Originally drafted by the Washington Bullets with the 22nd overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft, Wittman played nine NBA seasons for Atlanta, Sacramento and Indiana before retiring in 1992 with a career average of 7.4 points per game while shooting .501 from the field in 543 games.
“We thank Flip for the effort, professionalism and hard work he brought to the team during his tenure,” said Grunfeld. “He will be an asset to the right team and we wish him the best.”
Assistant coaches Don Zierden, Sam Cassell, Ryan Saunders and Gene Banks will remain with the team.