February 17, 2010
By Brian Spencer
Can we start referring to Flip Saunders, head coach of the sunken ship that is the Washington Wizards, King Moonraiser instead? Because at this point, with his team decimated and looking more and more like the Southeast Division’s version of the New Jersey Nets (they of the 5-49 record), Saunders is not as much a NBA coach as he is the caretaker of a team full of forgotten, disregarded, and, yes, unloved
It started on December 10, 2008, when the Wizards welcomed vagabond guards Mike James and Jarvaris Crittenton in a trade that sent Antonio Daniels to New Orleans. Though he did play a key role off the Detroit Pistons bench during their 2004 championship run, James is best known for lighting it up on a bad Toronto Raptors team in the 2005-06 season. That year he averaged 20 points per on 47% FG, including 2.1 triples, along with 5.8 assists, 3.3 boards, and nearly 1 steal.
The Timberwolves bit (surprise!), signing him to a four-year deal as a free agent that summer; including Minny, he’s since played for four teams. Sparingly. His contract is up after this season, and in all likelihood his NBA career will be too. Crittenton, a first-round pick by the Lakers back in ’07, is technically done for the season with a broken foot, but he was also the other guy dancing the firearms tango with Arenas. I’ll be shocked to see him ever don a NBA jersey again.
The phenomenon continued when Randy Foye, better known as The Guy Who Was Traded for Brandon Roy, came to Washington last summer. Three full seasons removed from his status as a promising lottery pick looked at as a cornerstone of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Foye joined the Wizards as an upside insurance policy for Gilbert Arenas. Sadly, that policy had to be cashed in prematurely, and though technically his success (or lack thereof) this season has yet to be determined, we know we’re looking at a career backup whose star has permanently fallen from grace.
Foye came to the Wiz with 30-year-old Mike Miller, the fifth-overall pick of the 2000 NBA Draft and the 2001 NBA Rookie of the Year. We’ve long maintained that Miller stands as the most underwhelming ROY in modern NBA history: he played less than 30 minutes a night as a rookie, and finished the season with pers of 11.9 points (on 43% FG), 4 boards, 1.7 assists, and little else. For that, he was recognized as the league’s top rookie. Oh, he’s had a fine, if indistinguishable career, but he’s on his last legs. If a contender thought there was value there, he could have been had for, say, the draft rights to a European who’ll never step foot on a NBA court.
Oberto, Josh Howard, Al Thornton, and more misfit toys after the break…