The Washington Wizards have reached a deal with coach Flip Saunders on a four-year, $18 million contract, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. Here's what they're saying out in the ether about the marriage ...
Rob Mahoney, Hardwood Paroxysm: "Flip Saunders and the Washington Wizards are a match made in Gilbert's own Gilberty heaven. There are performing circus animals everywhere, fireworks, unicorns, elaborate masked balls, and the whole thing is probably scored by Animal Collective. But somewhere in that world, there’s an incredible offensive coach whose style has been ridiculed, leadership has been questioned, and successes attributed to others. He's a kindred spirit with a perfect fit for not only Gilbert's style, but the team's style. So light the fuse, pick out your feathery masque, and cue Sung Tongs — things just might get magical in Washington."
Stet Sports Blog: "There's no doubt that Saunders can coach and can teach, but there have always been questions about his ability to generate motivation within that equation. There's a chance the Wizards may improve slightly just from the new face in the locker room, but over the long term, it won't end well for a player's coach and a Wizards'
Romper locker room. They just aren't mature enough for it. [...] But the Washington Wizards can avoid all of that if they hire a coach that demands more of his players than they stand to concede. If they bring in a guy who will call out players, hold them responsible for defensive lapses and mistakes, and grate on them every minute of the entire season at the head of the team. The Wizards have to have a coach they can't stand, to bring the most out players who have not yet developed the flaming urgency to contend for a championship. That ain't Flip, but there is a Little General somewhere out there that fits the bill just perfectly."
Shoals, The Sporting Blog: "The Wiz don't need anyone to teach them how to score, but he could certainly fine-tune their already formidable offensive capability. Unfortunately, the team that plays no defense isn't going to learn the craft from Flip, and this most unconventional of squads could either respond well to his light touch, or use it as license to get even crazier. Then again, it's not like Eddie Jordan was a taskmaster. In some ways, this is like hiring a better Michael Jordan, which isn't so bad. Needless to say, on all these counts, the evolution of Gilbert Arenas could have a lot to do with how much actual improvement Flip can bring. Remember, the Wizards are a playoff team when healthy. I'm assuming the goal is to not just get back to that level, but find a way to get up there with the East's elite."
Matt Moore, NBA FanHouse: "Sure, Saunders could have trouble managing Gilbert Arenas' ego, balancing time for JaVale McGee, getting Caron Butler to take that next step, and finding some way to nag and pull a 3-point shooter out of the roster. Or he could take a mediocre offensive team to the top of the NBA's efficiency ranks and possibly get something close to what this team seems capable of. The Wizards went with the experienced guy here and there are worse ways they could have gone with this hire. Who knows, maybe this combination of coach and team will provide the punch Washington has been looking for for the better part of the last three decades."
Bullets Forever: "My biggest concern with Flip is that he won't play our young guys and will shorten our bench. He hasn't developed young guys well historically, with a poor track record in Minnesota followed by two bad years in burying key draft picks in Detroit. I'm hopeful his last season in Detroit, where he gave Rodney Stuckey and other youngsters way more playing time that before (and it worked), is a turning of the corner. Then again, I'm skeptical about whether all that was just Joe Dumars ordering Flip to play the young guys. Either way, I'm a big fan, as long as we continue to pursue the plan we're clearly pursuing. I get the plea for a more radical change to a defense-first guy like Avery Johnson or Tom Thibodeau (who I prefer greatly to Avery). But again, if you want your team to really transform, you need more radical roster moves and (likely) breaking up the Big 3. That roster transformation should have happened already, and it didn't. So long as it didn't, the coach won't solve things all by himself."
Michael Wilbon, The Washington Post: "Can Flip Saunders get along with Gilbert Arenas? Yes, absolutely. But that might be the problem. If Ernie Grunfeld was going to be the 'bad cop' in this formula then okay, but Grunfeld is the one who gave him the $111 million, which means it's Grunfeld who has empowered Arenas — some might say indulged him. That's okay. That's everyday life in the NBA, the balancing act between the people authorized to run the team and the superstars who actually run the team. One NBA coach who has Finals experience told me that before signing on with the Wizards he would insist on spending 48 hours with Arenas, 'to find out whether he's primarily interested in being 'Agent Zero' or willing to build on the all-star player he was three years ago.'"