During the last few seasons, NBA observers have seen the positive turnaround of many of the perennial bottom feeders of the Association. The Oklahoma City Thunder, who are playing against the San Antonio Spurs for the Western Conference Championship, ended the 2008-2009 campaign with a record of 23-59; which actually was an improvement over their 20-62 finish the season before.
One of the men mainly responsible for the Thunder’s change in fortune over the last few years is Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks; who replaced P. J. Carlesimo after the team had a humiliating start in the 2008-2009 season. Brooks first full season as the Thunder bench boss in 2009-2010, the club matured at warp-speed; finishing the regular season with a record of 50-32 and taking the Los Angeles Lakers to six games in the first round of the Playoffs before they lost. Brooks received recognition for his great job by being named the NBA Coach Of The Year.
Last year the Indiana Pacers were a team in turmoil under their head coach Jim O’Brien, when Pacers Team President dismissed the coach and replaced him with former assistant Frank Vogel. The interim-head coach took the Pacers to the Playoffs and this season the Pacers ended the regular campaign as the third seed in the East and nearly upset the Miami Heat in the second round of the Post Season.
Even the Minnesota Timberwolves showed improvement this past season after hiring former Rockets coach Rick Adelman last summer, as they were above .500 and in the hunt for a Playoff spot before Ricky Rubio was lost to injury for the year. This coming off a terrible season when the T-Wolves ended the year in last place in the Association; after failing to play respectably over the last few years.
Rather than emulating the example set forth by these franchises, it seems that the Washington Wizards will once again take the path of least resistance, as the “Washington Post” is reporting that the team will most likely bring back Randy Wittman as their bench boss for next season. Wittman took over as the coach after the team fired former head coach Flip Saunders in the middle of this past season. The team went 18-31 under their interim-head coach as they finished the year with a record of 20-46.
The Wizards are stating publicly that they were very pleased with how the team responded under the former assistant, saying that he helped restore discipline to the club and related better to the players than Saunders had. Considering that the infamous Gilbert Arenas gun incident occurred under Saunders’ watch; most likely anyone would have brought more discipline to the squad.
According to the paper’s sources however, the real reason that Wittman and his staff are staying is due to the fact that they are all under contract for next season; as they signed contract extensions before this past season began. One source told the paper “It’s completely a money decision.”
Another published report stated that the team may have decided to go in another direction had they won the first pick in the NBA Draft Lottery on Wednesday night. So apparently the team has a higher opinion of Anthony Davis than they do of their former number one pick John Wall. That truly is an odd situation to have the player that runs your offense spend his formative years in the Association under a coach that you would have dismissed had the team acquired another number one pick.
Once again the biggest losers in this situation are the fans that support the club with their loyalty and their hard-earned money. Wizards Team Owner Ted Leonsis, is showing little concern for his fan-base with giving Team President Ernie Grunfeld a new contract recently as well as the apparent decision to bring Wittman back for next season. It might not be that long before fans stop purchasing tickets on a regular basis, telling team representatives “It’s completely a money decision.”