WASHINGTON — On paper, Randy Wittman doesn’t look like anything special. Save for the last few weeks of this past season, his 2 1/2 years in Washington have been mediocre.
This year marked his first taste of the NBA postseason. His overall career record is an awful 191-329 — the worst regular-season record of anyone with at least 400 NBA games on his resume.
But he’s the right man for the Wizards.
The franchise put money on it too, re-signing Wittman to a two-year extension with a team option for a third. He didn’t get huge money, but it’s a worthwhile commitment to a man who clearly deserves it.
It’s not just that Wittman flipped the Wiz from a 25-win season to a 44-38 campaign in 2013-14. Nor is it all about the first playoff trip since 2008, or Washington’s first postseason series win in nearly a decade.
This is about building something for the future — a bright future for the Wizards. The playoff run didn’t look like a lucky streak for them. The Wiz looked like a team paying their dues and laying the foundation for a long-term run in an Eastern Conference begging for someone to take the baton from the Heat.
And this isn’t just civic pride talking: The Wizards’ postseason run last month garnered plenty of national attention.
So Wittman’s return is no big surprise, especially when you take into account how happy the players are to see him back. There’s no better example than John Wall’s tweet after the news broke of Wittman’s re-signing.
— John Wall (@John_Wall) June 3, 2014
In a player-driven NBA, it’s important to have the backing of your stars and that’s exactly what Wittman’s got.
Besides, there’s no clear cut option that trumps the one already here. Phil Jackson isn’t coming to D.C. Gregg Popovich is gainfully employed elsewhere. Mark Jackson probably isn’t an upgrade over Wittman (and even if he is, there could be some unnecessary baggage given the way his tenure with Golden State ended).
So the best man to lead the Wiz moving forward is the one who took this team from a band of knuckleheads to the best Wizards team in decades. I mean, unless you think plucking ancient point guards off of active rosters and putting them on the bench is a good plan (yeah, I’m talking about you, Jason Kidd and Derek Fisher).
This is the NBA. Having a great roster can make a coach look good in a hurry. Wittman didn’t have much to work with in Cleveland and Minnesota. In Washington, he’s got a young, up-and-coming backcourt starring Wall and Bradley Beal, and has the Wizards playing well enough to perhaps entice a big-name free agent (Kevin Love? Kevin Durant?) to come form a Big 3 in D.C.
Randy Wittman will probably never be a sexy name. He doesn’t bring cache from another city. Of course, neither did Erik Spoelstra in Miami. But both have brought something to their respective teams that has proven very elusive in the Washington sports landscape: continuity.
And for once, that’s not a bad thing for the Wizards.