WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- You want to know the truth? The Washington Wizards aren't ready for a big name coach.
During Randy Wittman's introductory press conference on Monday, there were zero mentions of the word "playoffs" and very little talk about the word winning.
"Our first order of business is to continue our development with our young guys, and continue to be hands on," echoed Wittman throughout the 20-minute presser.
Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld followed suit in his response, adding, "We are very comfortable with Randy. The players played very hard for
him. The players improved. The players had confidence. He's familiar
with them. And he improved the players."
Bringing back Randy Wittman (18-31 in his interim stint) without even interviewing another candidate says one thing loud and clear about the Washington Wizards: the team is still in a state of major flux.
Bringing in a guy like Stan Van Gundy, or a Jerry Sloan, or even someone with a bigger name like Patrick Ewing, would've ballooned the expectations for a young Wizards team that just isn't ready to handle the added pressure. Perhaps more important, it shows the organization isn't ready to commit to any detailed plans yet.
Keeping Wittman allows the expectations around the Verizon Center to stay low, so then if the Wizards do produce a 35-win year next season, Ted Leonsis and Grunfeld can applaud their decison. The Wizards aren't technically setting up Wittman for failure, but he himself knows that he's climbing up a dangerous mountain.
"We got to continue to increase the talent level on this team. We're not actually where we want to be from that standpoint," replied Wittman to a question about what the team would do in the draft.
Finally, as much as I enjoy Wittman, who is to say any assistant coach couldn't have improved the team in the interim situation? Subtracting Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis, JaVale McGee and Nick Young -- and also acquiring Nene -- were all Grunfeld's doing. I would argue the chemistry on the court was more a product of the roster changes, rather than Wittman's hands on approach.
Wittman may now hold the title of head coach, but in my mind he will still have the interim tag. Washington made it clear with his hiring, that the team still doesn't have a long term plan -- outside of "developing the young talent." The Wizards will still be rebuilding in 2012-2013, and nobody's job outside of John Wall and whoever is selected no.3 overall, will be safe.
Other Press Conference Notes
*Randy Wittman hinted he will experiment a little in the summer league to better prepare for October. I wonder if John Wall will join the team in Las Vegas? If so, that could mean more off-the-ball work for the guard, who will be heading into his third year.
*Wittman's contract is new, and all of the assistants are still under contract. But Wittman said this process (like every Wizards process) is still being evaluated.
*Ernie Grunfeld stated he doesn't know exactly which position the team is leaning toward drafting.
*Wittman on the biggest thing he learned this season: You can't reinvent the game. Trying to do too much only confuses the players.