- - Monday, June 4, 2012

Randy Wittman will return as the Washington Wizards‘ coach next season, the team announced Monday.

Wittman replaced the fired Flip Saunders on Jan. 24 after the Wizards got off to a 2-15 start in the lockout-shortened season. They went 18-31 the rest of the way, including wins in eight of their final 10 games.

“We are excited to bring Randy back as head coach and give him the opportunity to build on the positive momentum that the team showed under his leadership last season,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement. “We were very pleased with the development of our young players and the commitment to winning he instilled despite taking over the team under difficult circumstances.”

Wittman, a former head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers, had been Saunders‘ lead assistant since the start of the 2009-10 season.

“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity that [owner Ted] Leonsis and Ernie have given me and I’m thrilled to be returning to work with these players and this organization, Wittman said in a statement. “I felt that we made significant progress throughout last season and we are all looking forward to having a full summer, training camp and season to continue to improve this team.”