The Washington Wizards’ season is still mathematically alive, but their loss to the Kings puts them in the grave, closes the coffin, and slams several nails in. The rest of the season is piling dirt on top.
The ramifications of the Wizards’ collapse from a team expected to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown to missing the playoffs and endangering their now-slim chances of signing Kevin Durant in free agency could be extensive. The problems aren’t just with their defense and execution, nor just with the bizarre rash of injuries the team faced, but with fundamental issues in terms of team chemistry.
And CSN has a complete breakdown. Among other issues, including some really concerning news about the team’s relationship with Randy Wittman, CSN examines the relationship between the veterans on the team and their younger stars. And that relationship? It’s not good.
The butting of heads between younger players and vets hasn’t resolved itself. Beal basically said it (Marcin Gortat objected). They’ve all said it in different ways. But there’s a feeling that Beal and John Wall can be difficult to talk with during games. That they are “hard-headed” was a description used to me earlier this season when the team struggled. In other words, when adversity strikes, it’s competing ideas on what they should do next and they’re not receptive to advice or suggestions. Remember Nene’s remarks about young players on the team needing to get their “heads out of their butts” two years ago? It still applies. This isn’t to say one side is right and the other isn’t. Only the players themselves know the answers. But it’s still an issue that was overshadowed because of successful playoff runs the previous two years. The second they hit a tough skid, the same problems return. This back-and-forth has been common. This season, however, they haven’t been able to recover in the win column so the differences are more pronounced.
Source: Morning tip: Long-standing discontent undermines Wizards | CSN Mid-Atlantic.
That kind of a divide won’t get any easier. Instead of this being a season where Washington capitalizes on their promise and experience in playoffs past to take the next step, there could be significant changes coming to the coaching staff and roster. What’s worse, leaking this kind of information to the media? That’s not going to do much for calming the waters of any conflict between the two sides.
If you’re Wall and Beal, young and trying to understand leadership, this seems like undercutting from players who haven’t been as effective this season. (Nene, in particular, has been a big part of the team’s defensive struggles in bench units.) If you’re the older players, it’s just “telling it like it is.”
On the other hand, it’s important to remember that these things aren’t absolutes. The team doesn’t hate each other. This is a conflict, a divide, but it’s one they can work through. However, when you have bitter feelings about how a season ends, these divides have intensified with other teams in the past.
Maybe the Wizards can put this demon back in the box but given the reports in that link about the team tuning against Wittman, and the kinds of replete mental breakdowns the team consistently still suffers, even in the most important stretch of the season when they had a real chance, it’s hard to see there being a return point.
Things got bad in Washington, fast.
Courtesy: CBS Sports