WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards have set modest goals for this season after a summer full of organizational change and the evaluation of head coach Scott Brooks will be in accordance with those expectations, managing partner Ted Leonsis said on Tuesday.
Leonsis addressed the media at a court unveiling in Southeast Washington, the latest charitable effort by Monumental Basketball, and he was asked if Brooks' job performance will be based on player development this season, instead of purely on wins and losses.
"Yeah," Leonsis said. "I think this is the happiest Scott has been since he's been in the organization. All coaches want is effort and coachability."
Leonsis explained in further depth how the team's expectations are different now and exactly where he will be looking for Brooks and his staff to make an impact.
"We had much different goals going into this season than we had in the past. In the past it was 'make the playoffs, win 50 games and go to the Eastern Conference Finals' and that plan failed. We admitted that and did a total reboot. I said 'why can't this reboot be fast?' We have over-indexed now on a lot of young players and the only way you will find out what you have built culturally is to let them play," Leonsis said.
"Now it's just learning to communicate, learning how to break out of the offensive system to go back on defense and that will come from coaching. We've certainly made a big enough investment in our coaching and staff, so I expect to see improvement across the board."
The Wizards have played to a 3-8 record in their first 11 games, which puts them second from the bottom in the NBA. Only the 2-12 Golden State Warriors have been worse.
Defense has been the main culprit, as they rank 29th out of 30 teams in defensive rating. Their offense, though, has been a surprise with the third-best offensive rating according to NBA.com.
The offensive success allowed Leonsis to take some jabs at the media.
"So, we're doing better offensively than I thought we would be doing. I think most of the experts said 'how are you going to score the ball?' That's what I heard going into the season. Well, that's not an issue. We're doing a little bit worse than I expected defensively because the effort is there," he said.
The offensive numbers certainly reflect well on Brooks. The defense, though, appears to be a problem that has no signs of going away. And long-term, the Wizards will need to improve drastically on that end of the floor to become a winning team.
As for Brooks' job status, it sounds like he could be in good standing if the young players on the team continue to develop. He is currently in the fourth year of a five-year contract worth $35 million. If the Wizards wanted to part ways before the end of those terms, they would have to buy him out.
"We don't have any expectations this year about wins and losses. It's more about culture, identity and what players will be with us on a long-term basis," Leonsis said.
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