Should Flip Saunders Be Fired?

Jarrett CarterAnalyst IDecember 23, 2009

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Flip Saunders of the Washington Wizards reacts during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 19, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Note the question is “should” not “could,” because there’s no way the Washington Wizards are going to jettison the one variable that has nothing to do with their inconsistency.

But with all things being equal, including last year’s poor start and the continued defensive struggles of the team, is there room to think that Saunders is not the answer in Washington, just as Eddie Jordan wasn’t?

Keep in mind, this question is only presented because the Wizards seem so far removed from the logical solution to their problems: a blockbuster trade.

One of the stars, one of the big men, and one of the young backup guards has to leave for any respectable player to come in and infuse defensive integrity where there is none.

But that won’t go too well because a team doesn’t need to shave off 35-45 points a game in the name of defensive enhancement.

So, you look to the head guy and wonder when the offensive fireworks and defensive accountability we all hoped for kick in.

The Wizards’ 3-8 start to the season is far more digestible than last year’s 1-10 start under Eddie Jordan, but it’s uncanny how the drama, injuries, and questions of this season parallel those circumstances that surrounded Jordan’s dismissal.

And perhaps what makes it digestible is we expected this team to rebuild into a respectable brand of basketball.

Or did we?

Most people following this team envisioned a significant increase in wins—the range was usually somewhere between 40-46 on the year. They aren’t on that pace right now, and it's not because they have a lack of weapons.

A lack of discipline, maybe.

A lack of interior toughness, certainly.

But Saunders could very well be the Master Chief of the Eastern Conference, but he hasn’t yet learned which artillery is best suited for which situation.

And if the guns won’t work despite their luster and range of scope, you have to start looking at the shooter for what’s going wrong.

Saunders, like Jordan before him, kept the Wizards competitive despite infighting and a lack of clarity about roles.

There have been flashes but no steady flame to light the direction in which this team will travel over the next 20 games.

It only took one year and 11 games for Eddie Jordan to see the door. The injuries weren’t his fault, the distractions weren’t his fault, and apparently, the motivation wasn’t his fault.

The same play is now in act one for Flip Saunders. And the if you aren’t going to change a struggling cast, just how much time do you allot for its star-crossed director?