Wednesday Wizards Report
Wizards Need Changes….NOW!
After last night’s blowout at the hands of the Bobcats (one of the worst statements a NBA fan can mutter), I can’t tell if this is 2011 or 2012. Last year the Washington Wizards started out 0-8 and with upcoming games against the Mavs and the Jazz, an 0-8 start isn’t too far from reality, especially if the Wiz play like they did last night against the Bobcats.
The last three games haven’t really upset me that much until last night’s contest in Charlotte. The two games against the Pacers and the Bucks were just like our previous three. We fought hard and gave ourselves a chance to win within the last five minutes of the game and came up just short. But against Charlotte last night, we got whipped from the opening whistle all the way until the last second drained off the clock. The Bobcats out hustled us, out shot us, took care of the ball better, and just flat out beat us. That’s something that is not tolerable against a team who does not have better talent than the Wiz.
In this week’s edition of the Wednesday Wizards Report, I’m going to play the role of Ted Leonsis and lay out a 3-step plan to start making this Wizards franchise something to be proud of instead of something that drives fans nuts. So for all you die-hard Wizards, make sure you tweet this to Leonsis and hopefully we can start having a respectable and winning franchise again.
Step one is the key to Wizards going forward and I don’t think one person on the face of the planet will disagree. We need to fire Ernie Grunfeld plain and simple. He has been the demise of the Wizards with his terrible drafting and terrible personnel decisions. Since he has been in the front office of the Wizards, they have gone 284-444 through last night’s game. That’s a winning percentage of .390. And for some insane reason we extended his contract in the off-season. I guess Grunfeld is still riding the coat tails of his previous success with the Knicks, but I’m pretty sure my dog can be the general manager of a team that has Patrick Ewing and have success. Here is a link to our draft history since Grunfeld started drafting for us in 2003; the only players still on the team are from the 2010 Draft and above. That is just flat out awful.
Then when it comes to re-signings, trades, and free agent acquisitions, Grunfeld might even be worse. Last off-season was a prime example. Instead of just cutting Rashard Lewis and only being on the hook for 10 million for this season only, he trades him and takes on the massive contracts of Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor. By doing this the Wiz completely lost the cap room we would have had on two players who can’t even average double figures in any statistical category, and would be reserves on any other team in the league. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Using the Amnesty Clause and cutting Blatche was the only solid thing Grunfeld did in the off-season, but we would have never had to use it if he didn’t re-sign that worthless sack to a ridiculous contract extension in the first place. Also, I agree with trading away McGee and Young, but I’m pretty sure we could have done something more cap friendly than trading for an injury prone Nene who is on the hook for 40 plus million over the next four years. Even if that was the best trade offer out there, that Amnesty Clause sure would have been nice to have in our back pockets just in case Nene can never get healthy and just wastes our money and a roster spot over the next four seasons. But the man who crushed our dreams on the court, Andray Blatche, has done a great job of crushing our dreams off the court as well.
The worst part about all of this Grunfeld talk, which makes me pull my hair out at the thought of it, is that if he would have handled everything correctly we could have had a pretty awesome team and outlook going forward. On draft day, I’m almost positive we could have made a move to get James Harden for our #3 pick and some extras. Then instead of trading away all of our cap space we would have had some nice cap room to sign additional quality pieces to fill out our roster. Any half-witted GM could have easily sold free agents on coming to a team that has John Wall, James Harden, Nene, and Seraphin and sold them on building an exciting and winning team in the nation’s capital. But the hope of that idea has come and gone.
Let’s just hope that Leonsis can finally figure out that Grunfeld is not the GM for us and we can move forward with someone else. Until that happens though, it will probably just be more of the same which is terrible draft picks, moronic trades, and the stupidity of not hiring a legit coach.
If step one is completed, number two would surely follow. We also need to fire Randy Wittman. Wittman has shown through the first six games that he can’t put a quality line-up on the court, he can’t make in game adjustments, and he surely can’t draw up scoring plays in the final minutes of games. The man has never been a winner as a coach in the past, so what in the world makes one think that he can win with a team who doesn’t have top flight talent. I’m just shocked that no one in the organization can figure that out.
Also, what kind of coach plays 11-13 guys a night? A team has never been successful playing that big of a rotation. What he is doing with Bradley Beal is just terrible and probably stunting his growth which is what it seems like we do with every one of our draft picks. Wittman only keeps him on the court when he is shooting the ball well. If Beal is having an off night to start the game, he’s only getting 20 minutes a night. That’s a great message to give your #3 overall pick: If you have an off night you aren’t going to play. Now being as he is a shooter and a scorer, that really gives him confidence to go out and be aggressive. Play the kid 30-38 minutes a game and let him come into his own. Let him figure out ways to get out of a slump. Don’t bench him after he misses a few shots.
Now we are put in a situation where if we fire Wittman, it probably wouldn’t be until next year until we could hire a quality coach. But hey, we are 0-6 and on our way to another losing season, so why not fire Wittman and see what Sam Cassel can do as a coach.
It surely can’t get any worse.
Hire me as GM. No, just kidding. Even though I’m positive I could do ten times better than Grunfeld because I actually have a driving passion for this team, we need to hire a quality GM and coach. We need to bring in a GM, let him hire the coach he wants, and together let them assemble the roster. Coaches in the NBA need the kind of players that fit in their respective systems and that is what the Wiz need to do. Bring in a new GM and coach that are on the same page, and let them get to work, because there is surely lots of work that needs to be done.
What really needs to happen is hire someone from the Spurs or Thunder organization that knows how to build a team, develop talent, and how to install a winning culture. The winning culture is the key because currently as an organization, by giving Grunfeld an extension, we are relaying that losing and mediocrity is ok. Why reward someone that has a .390 winning percentage for your team? Why keep a coach who has never had a track record of winning?
It just doesn’t make sense and change needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Now if Leonsis could just go through with this plan we would be in good shape, and as a fan base be much more energized about our team’s future. If I knew that Grunfeld and Wittman were both fired, it would make a losing season a little easier to swallow. But if we have another losing season and keep the same jokers around that are contributing to our losing, that pill is hard to swallow.
I’m not giving up on the season by any means because we have showed some signs of life and our two best players are still sidelined with injuries, but we need to start making some changes now. Instead of just putting along through the first couple months of the season and digging ourselves an insurmountable hole, we need to make changes now to give this team a shot at what we were all hoping for at the beginning of the season: The Playoffs.