Focusing Through The Wizards Blues
You know what feeling you get on Sunday evening (well, most of you … those with day jobs at least)? It doesn’t come too late in the night, early enough to still technically call it the weekend, but it also comes at a time when you know that Monday is right there, waiting on you, laughing at you. The fun, is over.
Thoughts of dread enter your mind … of getting up early … of maneuvering the morning commute … of trying to get the ahead tough tasks accomplished. None of it sounds fun. Combined with the longing for the weekend to somehow extend, especially and almost even more so when it’s the Monday evening of the three-day holiday weekend, that feeling is called “the blues.”
The blues can only really derive from losing something good. So, if you’ve had a crappy weekend and just cannot wait to get back to your wonderful job, then good for you … keep it to yourself.
Many of the Wizards are going through the blues right now … and it’s not just JaVale McGee and John Wall wanting to hang on to their big stage weekend festivities. From guys like Hamady N’diaye, who visited friends back at Rutgers in New Jersey over the weekend, to guys like Andray Blatche and Trevor Booker who spent time in the Carolinas with family, everyone is coming back to a 15-39 team … a team on pace to finish with the seventh worth winning percentage in franchise history.
The team is coming into work and back to a desk with papers, wires, cords and computers in complete disarray … and the complaints about the alarm clock, bus schedule and weather report have been well conveyed en route.
If Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders were meant to be gone at some point of the season, it would’ve happened by now. But their job after the year is complete is no more secure than the positions of Nick Young, Al Thornton and Yi Jianlian with the franchise — all three are at the end of their rookie year contracts and can be restricted free-agents of the team, if the Wizards so choose.
The Wizards, for season’s final 28 games, are in an audition for their jobs … all of them. Well, John Wall is secure. Rookies like Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker are understandably in the learning curve category. But even those such as Andray Blatche, especially Andray Blatche, will need to carry a message from team ownership that there will be consequences without significant signs of improvement … signs which will be easy to both see with the eye and measure with statistics.
Can Blatche, a main target of this here site (much to the chagrin of some, but hey, when your face is on team promotional banners and your resting your laurels on a new contract, your game deserves to be scrutinized to the detail), shed his reputation around the league as being a ‘one-in-fiver’ — someone who only shows up with winning effort once in five games? Seems like a tall task for a play whose numbers have provided little growth in professional year six, especially in comparison to his performance at the end of season five.
Again, it’s not just Blatche. It’s everyone. But Andray, communicated through the choices of the team, is clearly and currently a support beam. Right or wrong. The team has invested a lot in Blatche and it’s about time those investments started paying off.
Some people will call for the Wizards to start tanking games for more chances in the NBA draft lottery. Those people are stupid. Tanking is a risk counter-productive to franchise building, especially when you’re already building around Wall. So that is that.
In the below video you’ll hear Flip Saunders, Nick Young, Rashard Lewis and JaVale McGee talk about the team’s focus heading out of the All-Star break. Warning, there’s a lot of meaningless cliché. The Wizards are rubbing their own eyes, seemingly unaware of what the final 28 games brings.
Pessimism dictates that the coaching staff will keep going through the motions, team management will try for a forward-thinking trade before Thursday’s deadline but won’t succeed, and the players will keep playing for themselves. And John Wall will become more frustrated.
Optimism dictates that this team will growth together, and that players will relent to deemed roles instead of trying to create one for themselves. Good thing for the players is that they control their own destiny. It’s not about coaches or the other team or writers covering the team. These last 28 games will be what they want make of it.
“If we can’t do it, we just can’t do it,” is the quote from Nick Young that ends the video. I don’t think a comment could more aptly describe the current malaise surrounding the franchise. But hey, what’s a rebuilding project without a couple bent nails? Sunday evening never brings great feelings, but eventually good teams make every day Friday.