4:45pm: Multiple Wizards players tell J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic they expect the team will fire Wittman.
12:47pm: The belief is widespread in NBA coaching circles that the Wizards are poised to fire Wittman, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
9:52am: It’s unlikely the Wizards will keep Randy Wittman for next season, the last on his contract, league sources tell Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post, who adds that Wizards players believe that Wittman senses the team won’t retain him. That jibes with the general sentiment of late, with Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops reporting last week that Wittman isn’t expected to keep his job and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com expressing that same belief in a recent appearance on WTEM-AM’s “The Tony Kornheiser Show” (audio link, scroll to 10:45; transcription via James Herbert of CBSSports.com).
Conversely, the Wizards are expected to retain team president Ernie Grunfeld, Castillo writes. Previous reports have conflicted on that matter.
Wittman’s contract calls for him to make more than $3MM per year, Castillo notes, though only an unknown portion of that is guaranteed for next season. Several people around the league wondered as the season began about the possibility that the Wizards would let Wittman’s fate hang in the balance until July so that free agent target Kevin Durant could weigh in on the decision, as The Vertical’s Chris Mannix reported for SI.com in November. That was before a disappointing season that’s appeared to dampen the chances of Durant choosing to play in his native Washington, D.C.
The season has taken a toll on the relationship between Wittman and his players, as J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic recently wrote, and it’s the combination of that and the team’s subpar performance that have sparked the belief amongst the players that Wittman thinks he’s about to lose his job, according to Castillo. Wittman took the team to the second round of the playoffs the past two years, the first time that’s happened for the franchise since back-to-back trips to the Finals in 1978 and 1979, but Washington has been eliminated from contention for a postseason berth with a 40-41 record this season.
Does Wittman deserve to take the fall for the struggles of the Wizards? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.