When the Washington Wizards fired Randy Wittman, they focused on making Scott Brooks their next head coach.
It didn't take long before they named Brooks their new head coach.
When the Indiana Pacers announced Thursday that head coach Frank Vogel's contract would not be extended, a preliminary list of replacements emerged.
Would Wittman make the cut?
VERY early but here's a surprising list of names I'm hearing of possible #Pacers candidates: D'Antoni, Jackson, Shaw, Wittman, Woodson.— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) May 5, 2016
All those names are what you'd expect for a full blown search, especially if the goal is to find someone with previous head coaching experience. Wittman served as a head coach over parts of 10 seasons with Cleveland, Minnesota and Washington, where he took over during the 2011-12 season.
He's also an Indiana native and starred for Bobby Knight at Indiana University including the 1981 NCAA Championship team.
Does this mean Wittman is the right man for the Pacers? Ultimately that's up to team president Larry Bird, but a Vogel for Wittman swap would get panned by the NBA world.
In farness to Wittman, he helped turned the Wizards franchise around. He was on the sideline for playoff series wins in 2014 (Chicago) and 2015 (Toronto). It's possible they reach the Eastern Conference finals in 2015 if John Wall doesn't suffer a fractured hand.
Expectations were high entering the 2015-16 season, but Washington missed the playoffs and then moved on from Wittman last month. Blame injuries or the roster compisition if you want, but the team never generated sustainable momentum. How Wittman handled the team, the locker room, the strategy also played a factor.
When he took over as interim head coach during the 2011-12 season, Wittman had the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Over his last three seasons in Washington, the Wizards went 131-115.
If Bird wants a new voice, not sure the 56-year-old Wittman is that guy even if by definition he would be new. Vogel is among the more interesting and adaptable NBA coaches. Those are traits not always associated with Wittman. Vogel took Indiana to consecutive Eastern Conference finals during his run and finished with the most wins in franchise history.
It's frankly odd Bird is making this move.
It would be stunning if he then hired Wittman. Then again, who imagined Wittman lasting as long as he did in Washington?