A report came in late last night that the Wizards had in fact resigned their GM of ten seasons, Ernie Grunfeld. No official announcement has been made but sources have reported that Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has agreed with the recent moves made by Grunfeld and wanted to give Ernie more time at the helm.
All in all Grunfeld’s tenure with the Wizards has had it’s up’s and down’s. He was tasked with cleaning up the mess of a team Micheal Jordan left, and built the Wiz into a playoff team behind the emerging Gilbert Arenas. Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison would join Gil to become the Wizards version of The Big 3 only to never make it out of the first round together.
What transpired between Gilbert’s last All Star season and the current Wizard team was a full-fledged team collapse. Gilbert’s knees went out but the Big 3 were kept together, each of them being awarded large contracts. Then came the gun fiasco and ultimately the mass exodus from Washington (Gil to Orlando, Antwan to Cleveland, and Caron to the Mavs). Grunfeld then found himself building around John Wall with players like Nick Young and JaVale McGee.
That team was a disaster and Ernie managed to fix his own mess this season, trading away the problem players while fielding a 18 win team (with two games left to play). Now, with a new contract Ernie must concentrate on surrounding John Wall with not only good players, but smart and mature guys that can contribute. Of course the future of the franchise hinges on Wall’s development, but with cap space and the right decisions this team could turn it around quickly.
Do I like the decision to re-up Grunfelf? I’m 50/50. The guy missed just about as often as he hit, he signed guys to contracts they didn’t deserve, but he also showed savy by finding diamonds in the rough via trades, free agency, and sometimes the draft. Ernie hasn’t distinguished himself as one of the top GM’s in his field, but he has built a team that could compete as early as next season. All things considered: it’s his job for now why mess with continuity?
The Wizards now will turn their sights towards finding a replacement for the departed Flip Saunders and current interim HC Randy Wittman. Whatever coach they decide to bring in will need to have a solid relationship with Grunfeld in order to develop the team the right way. Will it be Stan Van Gundy from Orlando or Nate McMillian (formerly of the Trail Blazers)? We’ll have to wait and see on the coach, but for now the Wizards future is squarely in the hands of Ernie Grunfeld.
I’m just not sure how I should feel.
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.