Ernie Grunfeld: “Obviously the Pollins are running this team and I report to them directly.”
Who is guiding the sinking ship that is the Washington Wizards more? The current owners or the potential owners (who also own a minority share of the Wizards)? Knowing that majority control of the team is currently in transition, spawned by the passing of Abe Pollin in November, that’s what’s on the minds of many fans.
The Ted Leonsis led group, Lincoln Holdings, owns 100% of the Washington Capitals and 44% of Washington Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Washington Wizards, the Verizon Center and the Baltimore-Washington Ticketmaster franchise. With the Abe Pollin estate/family still owning a majority of WS&E, and currently in disputed discussions with Leonsis on the sale of the team, it’s no surprise that Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards team president of operations, said on Tuesday, “Obviously the Pollins are running this team and I report to them directly.”
Grunfeld must, however, be in a very tough situation. He can’t exactly work under the consultation of Leonsis, the successful owner of the Caps whom most fans can’t wait to take control of the Wizards. Grunfeld must remain loyal to those who hired him.
Imagine knowing you will likely have a new boss but not being able to impress him or her because you’re being hand-cuffed by your current boss. Something to consider the next time you disagree with any of the moves Grunfeld makes up to Thursday’s trade deadline and beyond. Still, Grunfeld should be fully on the hook for his maneuvering creativity, or lack thereof, and his ability to do the job for which he was hired.
“I think this is the direction that we need to go in at this time,” Grunfeld said, speaking of the trade he made with Dallas and the moves he might make before 3 pm on Thursday and into the summer. That the Wizards needed drastic change has been obvious since before Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton had a pissing contest with guns. But what’s not clear is if a fire-sale without receiving much in future assets (talent worth keeping or draft picks) was a necessity because of the market or a necessity because Grunfeld was told by the current owners to cut costs no matter the cost. And we may never know.
With the deal with the Mavericks, Grunfeld isn’t off to the best trade season start in the eyes of Wizards fans, especially since he couldn’t maneuver a pick nor Dallas’ trade exception, and managed to send “cash considerations” in Mark Cuban’s direction. But the judgment period on Grunfeld is still out. The trade deadline clock on this very website is counting down. Problem is, Big Ernie might not end up being around to help rebuild the house that he is currently torching to the ground.