Wizards fire coach Saunders after dismal start

Washington: The Washington Wizards fired coach Flip Saunders after opening the season with a National Basketball Association-worst 2-15 record.

The Wizards, who started the season with eight consecutive losses, were trounced by the Philadelphia 76ers 103-83, for their seventh road loss in as many tries this year.

Assistant Randy Wittman will take over on an interim basis for the remainder of the season beginning with the Wizards hosting the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

"We felt the team had become unresponsive and we will look to Randy to provide a different voice and a change in philosophy moving forward," Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement.

"We were disappointed in the lack of development of our players at this point in our rebuilding plan."

Wittman, 52, was head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers for two seasons (1999-2000 and 2000-01) and later directed the Minnesota Timberwolves for two-plus seasons(2006-09).

He has a 100-207 record as a head coach and served as the Wizards` lead assistant since the 2009-10 season.

"We have struggled as a team at times this season, but we have also seen a great deal of potential from our young players and glimpses of what we can accomplish together as a team," Wittman said. "The coaching staff will look to build on that."

Saunders, 56, coached the Timberwolves for 10 seasons and the Detroit Pistons for three before coming to Washington for the 2009-10 campaign.

The Wizards have not advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs since 2004-05. They were 26-56 in Saunders` first season before slipping to 23-59 a year ago.

Bureau Report