One Last Visit With The Departed Alonzo Gee
Be mad that Alonzo Gee is no longer a Washington Wizard. The justification is there. Once again, the brain-trust of franchise has failed its fan base by putting dollars over sense. Or rather, considering the meager amount the team would’ve had to pay to equal the more tempting offer of the San Antonio Spurs, perhaps leading Gee to decide to stay in Washington, call it cents over sense.
Fingers are pointing directly at team president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld. And they should be. But don’t forget, you have more fingers that can point at more people. I can’t profess to know how various transactions during this current state of ownership limbo affects the remaining 66-percent transition from the Abe Pollin Estate to Ted Leonsis and Lincoln Holdings, but I also can’t forget that until it is complete, Grunfeld still reports only to the Pollins. He won’t let us forget either, reminding us in his press conference this past Saturday, just as he did in mid-February.
Maybe Leonsis would’ve granted approval for the same move of non-retention. And maybe Grunfeld is operating without the need to seek formal approval from those to whom he currently reports. Perhaps he’s working under a general edict where his actions are determined by a word that has been associated with the Pollin legacy before. Yes, that’s right. Cheap.
Now, there might be other variables in place aside from cost. But when the team’s reason, or excuse, for not retaining Gee revolves around saving cap space for next season while the San Antonio Spurs, a championship organization vastly unmatched by the Washington Wizards, sees enough value in Gee to further go into luxury tax territory, something is amiss. And that something should be called out.
Of course, calling the Pollins cheap, throwing out accusations of them looking out for their own agenda and not that of the fans during this transition does not necessarily paint an accurate picture. But if true, the idea still doesn’t absolve Grunfeld from shouldering most of the responsibility for the current laughing-stock state of the team. But compartmentalizing recent transactions since the team fell into the depths of the gutter, one must empathize with Grunfeld and how the controlling ownership puppeteer has caused him to ball his fists so tight that he could squeeze blood from a stone. Ernie is recycling dental floss these days. He’s washing paper towels in the Verizon Center sink and hanging them to dry for later reuse. Anything to save a buck.
But love is love. Maybe that cap room will be used for the better. Maybe Gee won’t pan out to be much. Maybe the criticism of the Spurs pulling the rug out from under the Wizards will just amount to meaningless, vented frustration. But the head-scratcher is that Gee amounted to a free rookie, as in not paying with a draft pick, without much future monetary commitment. And I do know that the more you scratch your head, the more likely a sore is to open up. And it seems like now, the Wizards are just picking at scabs.
On Saturday after the Jazz game, the Washington Post’s Michael Lee and I stopped to chat with Gee. Lee was actually set to write a more in-depth profile on Gee, but had that snatched out from under him too when the rookie departed. Lee does, however, have a nice post about Gee up on Wizards Insider.
I recorded that interview with Gee with my Flip Camera. In the video below, you will see Gee talking about …
- Why his name wasn’t called on draft night and how he reacted.
- Suddenly starting for an NBA team after coming from the D-League.
- What it’s like playing in the D-League and comparing that to the NBA.
- The experience of guarding the likes of Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony.
- When his “I’m here in the NBA” moment occurred.
A photo memory of Gee…
[via Adam Douglas, Truth About It.net photographer]
What other are saying about Gee …
Perhaps the Wizards would have gone into the luxury tax this season if they kept Gee and are just trying to save face. But wasn’t that what negotiating a tough deal for Zydrunas Ilgauskas supposed to be able to solve? And hell, if for some reason the tax this year is an issue, then the Wizards are erring by not being transparent with their fans about that.
So really, this isn’t about Gee. It’s about a larger problem. It’s why I’m sick of this front office. They may have done some good things in the past, and they may do some good things in the future elsewhere, but their time has run out here. It’s hard for me to trust their ability to rebuild this team when they fall asleep at the wheel when it comes to seemingly minor details like making sure they sign Alonzo Gee for the rest of the season.
So Gee will waltz back to San Antonio — or Austin, most likely — and the Spurs, one of the more D-League savvy organizations in existence, have managed to keep another intriguing young player in-house by signing them to a guaranteed deal for the rest of the season and an unguaranteed deal for next. Eddie Grunfeld and the Wizards have managed to sever ties with a cheap, reasonable asset for seemingly no reason at all. Good show, chaps, good show.
In the meantime, what the Flip?
Lee reports that the Wizards decided to let Gee go because of salary cap reasons. Which is a little insane, given that the Spurs landed him for a non-guaranteed deal for next year. But maybe it was about this year, and trying to get under the tax, as Bullets Forever is thinking. (By the way, Wizards fans aren’t taking this well.) Even if so, you’re talking about three weeks of the season prorated, for a chance to have the kid on your summer league team.