Saunders has deal to coach Wizards

Updated: April 14, 2009, 2:02 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

WASHINGTON -- Flip Saunders has reached an agreement to become the new coach of the Washington Wizards next season, according to multiple reports.

Wizards owner Abe Pollin has approved the hiring of Saunders, the choice of president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld to succeed interim coach Ed Tapscott, a league executive told The Associated Press.

The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because the season has not ended and the Wizards are not yet prepared to make a formal announcement. An announcement is expected next week.

The deal reportedly is worth close to $19 million over four years.

Tapscott, the Wizards' interim head coach, could return to the team's front office, according to reports.

Responding on Monday to reports that Saunders would get his job, Tapscott said, "It's just best that I not comment on that. For me, it's just a matter of focusing on finishing the season as strongly as possible."

The NBA regular season ends Wednesday. The Wizards have the second-worst record in the NBA this season -- 19-62 -- heading into their season finale at Boston, also on Wednesday.

Saunders, 54, has had success in both Minnesota and Detroit. He reached the playoffs eight times with the Timberwolves and three times with Detroit (where he lost in the NBA Eastern Conference finals each time).

He was fired last June after the Pistons lost to the eventual champion Celtics.

Monday, The Washington Post reported that Sam Cassell could be an assistant coach for Saunders.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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