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Randy Wittman.

The Washington Wizards have fired coach Randy Wittman after missing the playoffs

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After finishing this season as a .500 team at 41-41, the Washington Wizards have fired head coach Randy Wittman after four years of service.

Taking over from Flip Saunders in 2012, Wittman did a commendable job in bringing the Wizards up from the depths of the Eastern Conference and back into playoff contention under his watch.

After finishing fifth in the two previous seasons - with 46 wins last year - the Wizards were expected to build on their previous campaigns and challenge at the top end of the East like the Toronto Raptors and the Atlanta Hawks have in recent years.

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However, the loss of Paul Pierce to the L.A. Clippers hurt America's capital and Wittman attempted to employ a high-tempo offence to suit his floor-spacing talent.

Despite possessing two of the most athletic players in the NBA in John Wall and Bradley Beal, the system never really took off. As a result, the Wizard's defence suffered greatly and served as an Achilles heel this campaign.

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Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement: "There were high internal and external expectations for this team coming into this season based on the momentum we had generated over the previous two years.

"Unfortunately, the inconsistency of the team's performance and effort, particularly on our home court, did not allow us to meet those expectations and we decided a coaching change was needed."

Grunfeld did go on to recognise that Wittman had helped Washington grow from the struggling franchise that he found. He intimated that those foundations are what the organisation plans to build from in the future.

Milwaukee Bucks v Washington Wizards

"Randy should be commended for the job he did in taking over as head coach during a very difficult time for our franchise and for helping to establish a culture and identity that led to success," Grunfeld said. "This was a very tough decision on a personal level, and we wish Randy and his family the best moving forward."

After defeating the Atlanta Hawks in the season finale on Wednesday night, Wittman was resolute in his actions and appeared to determined to stay unless told otherwise.

"I love this job," he said. "I'm going to come to work until they tell me I can't. I'm proud of what we've done here. I took over 4½ years ago, and this was a sideshow. And we slowly changed the culture of this team. And we had a slip-up this year.''

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards

He continued: "I'm proud of the work that I've done here. I really am. I'm proud of our guys. They played hard all the way to the end, playing for nothing. They gave me that. I'll be here first thing in the morning. So if you want to come by, I'll be here.''

Former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks is the early favourite to take over the reigns, and one has to wonder if that will coincide with their pursuit of home town boy Kevin Durant this summer.

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Topics:
Eastern Conference
NBA
Washington Wizards
Southeast Division
John Wall
Bradley Beal

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