Washington Wizards fans may never realize the importance of the summer of 2008, or, I should say, how crucial it’s been to have a GM like Ernie Grunfeld at the helm with the direction of the franchise on the line.
Whether you agree with it or not, the Wizards GM made an assessment based on the team’s past, his cognizance of the game, and his awareness of personnel (with some assistance from his staff of course). Grunfeld then formed a plan, made his plan public, and enacted that plan with swift intuitiveness.
Charting the future path of an NBA team involves knowledge, luck and chance. Ernie limited risk by using his knowledge. Part one of the plan was to lock up Antawn Jamison immediately. Sure, if you are purely considering market value, four-years and $5o million may be slightly overpaying for the 32-year old forward. One only has to factor in Gentlemen Jamison’s leadership, much less his many other intangibles, to understand that AJ was more than deserving of the amount and time.
And part 1b was locking up Gilbert Arenas. Ernie has seen, heard, and experienced plenty of free agent summers. He knows that anything can happen. Sure Ernie may have been surprised about Brand-Gate, but that doesn’t mean he neglects to consider such events a possibility, especially with our friend, Captain Quirk.
Locking up Gilbert Arenas, even for $111 million over six (a price which some, including myself, have wished was even less) was the right thing to do. I’m no longer contentious on the price. To wait longer to get a deal with Arenas done is to open the door wider on the chance that something crazy might happen. Grunfeld slammed the door and moved on to dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the summer. He used tact to get Arenas to take less money, still allowing for Agent Zero to safe face, while providing for maneuverability down the road.
Part one and beyond has so far involved the signing of Dee Brown, he of rap and Sports Illustrated fame. I’d been curious as to who might fill the needed third string PG position, one with the quicks to push (as the Wizards 2nd unit, with it’s youth, needs to run), and hopefully one in possession of a knock-down jumper as well. With Brown, we obviously have more confidence in his ability to be an example of the former, rather than the latter. But there’s always Turkey and Dave Hopla, and when you consider that Grunfeld signed Brown on the cheap, I’d give the move an A minus.
So with between $1 million and $1.5 million left to possibly fill out the roster, Ernie Grunfeld has effectively taken the Wizards off the big name free agent market, unless the Wiz make a move. But if they don’t, that’s okay. I have full confidence in Grunfeld’s ability either to sign another potential steal free agent on the cheap with the veteran’s minimum or to make a trade that benefits the team.
Ernie Grunfeld is the closer with the foresight to maintain flexibility in his attempts to simultaneously improve the present and the future of the franchise. Move over Kyra Sedgwick, someone get this guy his own T.V. show.