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League-worst Wizards fire head coach Saunders, promote Wittman
Jan 24, 2012, 19:49 GMT
Los Angeles - Flip Saunders couldn't get the job done and now he's gone.
The struggling Washington Wizards fired Saunders as their head coach after a league-worst 2-15 start, and replaced him with assistant Randy Wittman for the remainder of the 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 Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld in Tuesday's statement.
'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.'
Although Saunders has compiled a career coaching record of 638-526, he leaves the Wizards in his third season with a 51-130 mark.
Armed with core of talented youngsters including, John Wall, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, and Nick Young, Saunders could never get the club pointed in the right direction.
The Wizards struggled offensively this season. They ranked 27th in scoring (88.7 points per game), and 29th in shooting percentage (41.4). At the defensive end, they appeared to give a halfhearted effort.
'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, who owns a 100-207 record in head coaching stints with Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
'The coaching staff will look to build on that by utilizing the length, athleticism and versatility of our roster to improve our defence and create more opportunities in the open court.'
Wittman will get his first test Wednesday when the Wizards host the also struggling 3-14 Charlotte Bobcats.
Saunders becomes the second NBA coach fired this season after the Sacramento Kings dismissed Paul Westphal on Jan. 5 following a 2-5 start.