Grading Flip Saunders: The Poll & Trade Rumor Links | Wizards Blog Truth About

Grading Flip Saunders: The Poll & Trade Rumor Links

Updated: February 11, 2010

This morning I wrote a piece on grading Flip Saunders for ESPN’s Daily Dime; I’ve included it below. I gave Saunders a C-minus up to this point of the season. Now it’s your turn to grade him. Giving the coach an ‘A’ is not an option, as should be the case.

Grading Flip Saunders

This piece originally appeared on the February 11, 2010 of ESPN’s Daily Dime.,

In his Wednesday Per Diem, John Hollinger listed the Wizards as one of the NBA season’s biggest disappointments, scathingly calling them out individually and collectively. Hollinger pulled no punches, denoting some as selfish, some as clueless, and even dubbing worthless, Fabricio Oberto, a seemingly innocent bystander of Washington’s unimaginable season.

Hollinger usually draws the ire of Wizards fans for his unabashed criticism of their team, but this time, there can be little protest of his assessment. There is, however, one exception. Hollinger, like many others, almost precludes Flip Saunders from culpability for the season’s woes.

Extenuating circumstances deriving from the team that Ernie Grunfeld built have taken the brunt of the blame as nary a Washingtonian has pointed a finger in Flip’s direction. Knowledgeable fans understand that the coach cannot play the game for the players.

But heading into the All-Star break with a 17-33 team, should Saunders be given a complete pass? If asked to grade him, most would probably give an incomplete. But the guy is still getting paid in the first season of a 4-year, $18 million contract, isn’t he? Saunders should not be immune to a fairly graded assessment.

From claiming that teaching is the base of his coaching core, to providing players with his offensive playbook on iTouches, to establishing positive relationships with his players from day one on the job, Saunders has said and done all the right things. But one must wonder, despite all the on and off-court problems, why has Saunders had so much trouble getting his team to trust his proven instruction?

It’s rather baffling, but one diagnosis might be that, even with Gilbert Arenas, Saunders has not had a point guard who can adequately run his offensive system where the point is expected to handle the ball 80-percent of the time. You can only do so much with what you are provided, but in the same turn, Saunders clearly hasn’t effectively unified with his message.

He was brought to D.C. to transform a team with his grade-A experience, but from a coaching perspective, Saunders has only provided C-minus results while his team has failed miserably. With new students expected to come via a trade within the next week, the coach can only hope for better luck next semester, lest the Wizards become the child that the teacher left behind.

Click here to read the full version of ESPN’s Daily Dime for February 11, 2010

{Trade Rumor Links}

The big news, which was first reported on Wednesday but is now being pumped a lot on ESPN News, probably because of who is involved (T-Mac) and where he would be going (New York), is a possible three-team trade between the Wizards, Rockets and Knicks. Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the base being Tracy McGrady going to New York, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to Houston, and Al Harrington to Washington.

Harrington is in the last year of a contract currently paying him just over $10 million. And with Butler and Haywood adding up to about $15.8 million, other pieces would obviously have to fall into place. The Washington Post’s Michael Lee reported yesterday that the trade “doesn’t have legs right now.” So, even though it is being discussed hot and heavy, you can’t put much more stock in this rumor than in ones of trades between Washington and Phoenix, Portland, Dallas, Cleveland or the LA Clippers.

Today, Lee reports that the Wizards are in discussions with several teams and that team president Ernie Grunfeld might be looking to “retool on the fly” as opposed to a complete rebuilding effort.

Here’s what others are saying about the potential three-team trade:

Marc Berman of the NY Post writes:

The Wizards are looking to break up their team and take on the expiring contracts of Harington and either Larry Hughes or Darko Milicic in order to shed forward Caron Butler and possibly center Brendan Haywood, whom the Rockets view as strong assets. But more pieces have to be added — the Knicks likely have to put in $3 million of Jim Dolan’s cash.

The Knicks and Rockets were unable to complete a deal because Houston general manager Darryl Morey asked for lottery pick Jordan Hill and Knicks president Donnie Walsh refused.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News writes about Harrington:

D’Antoni believes that Harrington is hurting the development of Danilo Gallinari and also feels that Harrington is too shot happy. That may or may not be true.

Harrington is said to be upset that the coach won’t allow him to operate in the low blocks and instead wants him out on the perimeter shooting 3’s. In fairness to Harrington, he may be the Knicks best low post scorer, especially since D’Antoni won’t play Curry.

Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle writes:

Let’s begin with that Yahoo! report. The Rockets would do that deal — Tracy McGrady for Caron Butler and Brendon Haywood — in a heartbeat. There’d have to be other players included to make the salaries match, but if the Rockets could acquire Butler and Haywood without giving up Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry, Chase Budinger or Luis Scola, they’d be absolutely thrilled.

So far, though, every team wants at least one of those guys, and Morey would like to keep his guys. He may not be able to do that, and in the end, we won’t know how serious anyone is for at least a few more days.

Today, Justice, in a video, wonders if it’s best that Morey and the Rockets don’t make a move at all.

Eric Freeman of the Sporting News’ “The Baseline” writes:

Woj rightly notes, though, that this deal is pretty bad for the Wizards, who would be starting their rebuilding process with this swap. That means they’d need a draft pick, and with New York’s 2010 pick in the hands of the Jazz, it’d have to come from Houston. But would Morey want to give it up? It seems odd that someone who prizes cheap, efficient talent would want to trade away a first-rounder.

Mike Prada of Bullets Forever suggests a possible trade with McGrady going to New York; Butler, Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson going to Houston; and Harrington, Cuttino Mobley and Jordan Hill heading to Washington, along with a possible first rounder from Houston. I do that trade, but I’m not so sure Daryl Morey does.

{Other Links}

Bullets Forever: Next time you hear anyone talk about the close games the Wizards have lost and say “what if,” tell them to read what B-Woods has written.

Mike Jones Sports: Mike runs down the bright spots, the sunny-to-partly-cloudys, the disappointments, and the head-scratchers for the Wizards heading into the all-star break.

ProBasketballTalk: Rob Mahoney explains why Kwame Brown the basketball player (not the potential D.C. mayoral candidate) is quite delusional.

Charlotte Observer: The Duke-UNC rivalry exists in the Wizards’ locker room. I personally know because Wiz assistant Gene Banks (a Dookie) has yelled call-outs to Antawn Jamison (a Tar Heel) during post-game interviews before.

Kyle Weidie on EmailKyle Weidie on GoogleKyle Weidie on InstagramKyle Weidie on LinkedinKyle Weidie on TwitterKyle Weidie on Youtube
Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.