We’ve heard it from Ernie Grunfeld before, most recently in an interview by Mike Prada of Bullets Forever.
We were the first to make a move, so everybody’s following us (chuckles).
True, the Wizards were the first to strike when they landed Mike Miller and Randy Foye. But it’s hard to laugh, or continue to pridefully boast about the move, when the cream of the Eastern Conference crop keeps passing the Wizards by.
Let’s quickly go through what the top three teams in the East (Orlando, Cleveland and Boston), have done this off-season.
Minus: Hedo Turkoglu, Courtney Lee, Tony Battie and Rafer Alston.
Verdict: Vast improvement … the clear-cut favorites to win the East.
Minus: Wally Sczcerbiak, Lorenzen Wright, Joe Smith, Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic.
Verdict: Smith and Wright are elder statesman and no big loss; they can be replaced with low-cost fillers. Shaq, Parker and Moon are a significant upgrade over the remaining three, especially if the Shaq we saw last season becomes even more motivated and stays relatively healthy (we’re talking at least 65 games).
Minus: Leon Powe, Mikki Moore, Stephon Marbury
Verdict: While it’s not a huge splash for Boston, if they can stay healthy, they will be just as much of a threat as when they won the title. And don’t sleep on Daniels, he’s a ‘more than solid’ ball player.
Not to discredit the Miller/Foye acquisition. I like the trade, it will undoubtedly help the team win in the immediate future. However, no matter how many times Grunfeld says he’s comfortable with the current squad, there’s still a glaring hole in the front court.
I can’t really take issue with Grunfeld’s “wait and see what’s left” approach (aka the crumb snatcha). The Wizards have made it clear that they’re unwilling to dive much further into luxury tax territory, and I’m down with maintaining flexibility for the upcoming season and beyond.
Problem being, Washington isn’t the only team following this strategy. It’s a sword fight and all the other unsheathed pricks in the room have set their sights much lower than the prom queen and her court. They realize that the remaining options are low maintenance and could be better (in bed).
So as the bevy of second and third tier free agent big men become spoken for (Chris Wilcox to Detroit, Channing Frye to Phoenix, Rasho Nesterovic likely returning to Toronto, Joe Smith possibly to Atlanta, Sean May to Sacramento — although he probably wasn’t on Grunfeld’s radar), could the Wizards be left in the cold … perhaps not making a move at all?
The “desired” table scraps, the not-so-fresh bagels donated to the homeless shelter, such as Fabricio Oberto and Ike Diogu (who is evidently the third best unrestricted free-agent left … go figure), are about to turn into the only morsels of food in the land of roaches.
The dreaded day of Jason Collins, Mikki Moore or Jamaal Magloire is becoming closer to a reality … you know, the gals who don’t have dates to the prom because they’re five months preggers and still smoking cigarettes, or because they have an STD in the oven.
The fingers are no where near the panic button. I’m not some unreasonable malcontent who thinks Grunfeld is growing a SNAFU plant in his garden. But as evidenced by the tortoise and the hare, or pretty much every horse race I’ve seen, the first out the gates is rarely the first to cross the finish line.
I’d like to remain calm like The Roots and hope that the nonchalant mannerisms of Grunfeld netted him an ace in the hole while in Vegas. But being a Wizards fan, I’m asking a lot of myself.
The feeling of offseason opportunity passing the Wizards by can’t be escaped. Here’s to hoping that any future contract offers will not come back three days later: return to sender.