Without ever winning a game in the second round, Ernie Grunfeld will be extended into his tenth season in Washington. Credit: Rafael Suanes-US PRESSWIRE
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- On Monday evening Washington Post reporter Michael Lee delivered some chilling news to Wizards fans. Ernie Grunfeld, the man in charge of constructing the Wizards roster and coaching staff since 2003, will have his contract renewed by owner Ted Leonsis.
This decision -- widely regarded as abrupt -- proves Leonsis is the most patient man roaming one of the world's fastest-paced cities. A standstill approach is consistent with the lack of management change seen in Leonsis' Washington Capitals. In reality though, the downfalls of Grunfeld's resume reek as bad as any general manager in the NBA. Just look.
Ernie's Bad Resume
*Extending Andray Blatche for six-years, $35 million, not only obliterating his team's chemistry but also inflating the values of young players like Nick Young and JaVale McGee.
*Forking over an $111 million contract to Gilbert Arenas, the team's rowdy injury-prone class clown. The shrapnel from the Arenas meltdown has never fully left town -- hint, hint, Ernie is forever connected to one of the worst contracts ever. Grunfeld should've known Arenas' personality wasn't meant for a prominent speaking leadership role. Other NBA franchises and impending free agents look down upon the chaotic Washington's front office and culture.
*Disastrously hired and fired coach Flip Saunders, who has been known for his laid back style with veteran teams. The Arenas saga put the team into instant rebuild mode. Saunders personality was like a substitute teacher, letting Arenas run wild.
*Trading a top five pick -- which could have been Ricky Rubio -- for Randy Foye and Mike Miller.
*Drafting JaVale McGee and Nick Young, both based on potential. Every draft pick you make can't be solely off of athleticism.
*Not one person from the Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler trades are on the team, besides James Singleton who was cut and went to China for a yea. Jamison and Butler were borderline all-stars in Washington. To get absolutely zero lasting pieces from either of those trades is quite baffling.
Ernie's Good Resume
*Flipping the immature JaVale McGee and Nick Young for an experienced center in Nene, a move Ted Leonsis and I completely agreed with. I even hinted this trade would bring back Grunfeld -- whether it's right or wrong.
*Flipping Kirk Hinrich for Jordan Crawford and a first round pick, which turned out to be Chris
*Do you count the Gilbert Arenas? I guess you have to, but ultimately sports is about jewelry.
Outside of John Wall and Trevor Booker, is there a specific draft pick Grunfeld has actually nailed during his nine seasons in charge? Not Jarvis Hayes at tenth overall back in 2003, nor Oleksiy Pecherov back in 2006. The Redskins went through a similar scenario with Vinny Cerato's ineptitude in the draft. Grunfeld's recent moves have been noteworthy, but the damage has been done.
For me, Jan Vesely should have been the final straw in Grunfeld's tenure. If the Wizards actually hit on that pick -- say Kawhi Leonard -- John Wall's season could be entirely different. Also, how much different can European basketball be? There's no chance the Czech hybrid forward was properly scouted and Vesely more than likely goes down as the biggest bust of the 2011 class.
As SB Nation's Mike Prada pointed out on Twitter, why now? Why not at least see what was out there? Why not at least let Grunfeld fret in a quiet room, pulling his hair out, sipping on a diet coke. After all, he's disappointed loyal D.C. basketball fans for the majority of his tenure. Other candidates should'e been assessed.
I think the final decison came down to this: Ted Leonsis let Grunfeld slide for the Gilbert Arenas mess. I think in Ted's mind, there's no way the Wizards would be a bottom feeder in the NBA had Arenas remained somewhat normal.
And that leads me to my final point: Ernie Grunfeld clearly doesn't get to know the personalities in his locker room. Either he's too far removed from the everyday grind, or he's tone deaf. The Wizards haven't had a cohesive locker room since 2007.
Think of Grunfeld as a casting director for a play, who continually chooses the wrong roles for his team members. Arenas was not supposed to be the leader, and most GM's would've realized his immaturity. Nick Young was not supposed to be a starter and he possessed a laid back California vibe, not a killer instinct. JaVale McGee was supposed to have a specific big man coach tutor him.
Expect more of the future Wizards to be miscasted under the direction of Grunfeld. The unsure culture he has created will be a lasting one.