The Washington Wizards had an excellent season, made the playoffs, and appear to be moving in the right direction. And now their head coach has been rewarded for it.
Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed head coach Randy Wittman to a contract extension. According to CSN Washington, the deal is for three years, $9 million total, “but the final year isn’t fully guaranteed.”
“We are pleased with the progress the team has made on the court and with the culture we have been able to build with Randy as our head coach,” said Grunfeld. “We will look to continue that momentum with him deservedly leading this group of dedicated and hard-working players.”
Washington won its first playoff series since 2005, defeating the Chicago Bulls in five games in the first round. The team advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they fell in six games to the Indiana Pacers, marking the first time since the 1978-79 season that the team had won two games in the second round of the playoffs.
“This team and this organization have made significant strides over the last two-and-a-half seasons and I’m excited to be a part of the next step in that process,” said Wittman. “The players and staff all feel that this is the beginning of something special and we’re dedicated to building on our positive accomplishments while striving to improve and reach the next level of success.”
The Wizards finished 44-38 in 2013-14, representing a 15-game turnaround. The team’s 44 victories were the most since they won 45 in 2004-05, while their 22 road victories were tied for the most in the Eastern Conference and marked the highest team total since 1972-73 (23).
“Randy’s leadership and preparation allowed him to implement and build an unselfish team mentality over the last several seasons where defense comes first and every player is held accountable,” said Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis. “The result is a Washington Wizards team that proudly represents our fans and our city both on and off the court and has us looking eagerly toward what we can accomplish moving forward.”
Wittman has led the Wizards from the sidelines since taking over the team on January 24, 2012. During his two full seasons at the helm, the team has ranked in the top 10 in several defensive categories during the regular season including opponent field goal percentage (fifth in 2012-13), blocks (seventh in both seasons), opponent points per game (ninth in 2013-14 and eighth in 2012-13), opponent three-point field goal percentage (sixth in 2013-14 and 10th in 2012-13), turnovers (fourth in 2013-14) and opponent offensive rebounding (fourth in 2013-14.
In addition, the Wizards were one of seven teams (Indiana, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Memphis, L.A. Clippers and Chicago) to rank in the top 10 in defensive efficiency in each of the last two seasons (seventh in 2013-14 and fifth in 2012-13).
On offense, the Wizards have ranked in the top 10 in three-point field goal percentage (fifth in 2013-14 and 10th in 2012-13) and assists per game (eighth in 2013-14).
Wittman earned a place in the record books during the team’s postseason run, as he became just the fifth head coach in NBA history to win his first three career NBA road playoff games and joined Pat Riley as the only other coach in NBA history to go 5-1 in his first six career playoff matchups on the road.