Coaching carousel begins

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

The coaching carousel hasn't spun as wildly as it did last off-season, but there's movement nonetheless.

Today, the NBA's worst-kept secret was made official when Flip Saunders was announced in Washington as the new head coach of the Wizards.

A move that makes sense on multiple fronts given Saunders' reputation as an offensive-oriented coach on a team dripping with offensively skilled players, the Wizards have signed Saunders to a four-year deal worth $18 million US.

In Toronto, the Raptors are doing the politically correct thing of going about their due diligence when it comes to removing the interim tag from Jay Triano.

Barring something completely unforeseen, the Raptors and Triano appear to be moving closer to a full-time relationship.

As much as Triano should be applauded for keeping his mouth shut by not ripping the flawed roster he inherited, there is, on the surface, no market for his services outside of Toronto.

Money, always a consideration at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, already has been wastefully allotted to coaches in the past who had no business receiving long-term deals.

The Raptors' history is one of buying out coaches, which leads many to believe that part of Triano's appeal is that he'll come cheaply.

By NBA standards, earning $1.5 million a year, which Triano stands to make, to coach today's me-first players is considered a bargain.

In Phoenix, Alvin Gentry is days away from having his interim label eliminated.

Kenny Natt, who took over in Sacramento when Reggie Theus was shown the door, won't be as fortunate.

It's expected the Kings will soon inform Natt that his future will no longer be in Sacramento.

One-time Kings coach Eddie Jordan, who was ousted in Washington, is said to be one of many candidates Sacramento is considering.

In New Jersey, Nets president Rod Thorn has to decide on Lawrence Frank's fate in the wake of back-to-back seasons of not making the post-season.

"We shall see,'' Thorn said when asked to comment on the thorny issue of his coaching situation. "We're still in the process of evaluating our season and evaluating the different things we do."

Frank has presided over the Nets as their head coach for the past five seasons, an eternity in today's market when coaches are offered up as sacrificial lambs for the sake of convenience.

Point taken

The Raptors can't afford to use a top-10 pick on a point guard given their need for an athletic wing player -- unless they use it as trade bait. But there's plenty of quality point guards that are likely to be eligible for the draft.

Kings president Geoff Petrie, whose team is slotted to pick first overall, will soon fly to Europe to watch Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio, who has declared for the June 25 draft.

Fellow Spaniard point guard Carlos Cabezas is being touted as a can't-miss prospect as is Brandon Jennings, the American-born hoopster who decided he'd be better served playing in Italy than attending the mandatory one season of college in the U.S.

If he decides to come out, Syracuse's Jonny Flynn also is being projected as an impact point guard at the NBA level.

The consensus top pick, though, remains Oklahoma's Blake Griffin.

Roy on a roll

In case you missed Tuesday night's masterpiece, Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy torched two of the game's top perimeter defenders in Shane Battier and Ron Artest in leading Portland to its first post-season win in six years.

All Roy did was score 42 points and make all kinds of step-back jumpers in crunch time.

And to think the Raptors could have had Roy when they had the first overall pick in 2006.

Kudos to Andrea Bargnani for elevating his game this season, but does anyone actually think that Bargnani is capable of scoring 40 points in a post-season game?

We think not because Bargnani, like many jump-shot-happy players, doesn't have what Roy possesses -- a fearless mentality.

Roy made 12 trips to the charity stripe against the Rockets.

His ball handling skills continue to evolve and Roy even played the point position in the fourth quarter.


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