[Brentwood Park - NW Washington, D.C. - photo: K. Weidie]
My column last week in the DCist incited some reaction from ’round the web. It wasn’t my intention to incite, rather to simply convey thought-out passion through words, so I cannot find any fault in any passionate responses. Furthermore, I’d like to provide some bullet point thoughts below (and then some links).
- “Bold moves” was in reference to the on-court product and those who have a direct influence (players, coaches, basketball operations personnel, team doctors).
- “Bold moves” was not in reference to the surrounding bells and whistles and other shots of energy regarding the franchise, which are more than welcome — Midnight Madness, an alumni association, more attentiveness to stadium needs — but overall, those are mere distractions from the win-loss column.
- Trading Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas is not classified under “bold moves” … they were necessary moves.
- Other moves have been noted and appreciated for their forward-thinking manner — getting Yi Jianlian for essentially nothing, the 17th pick and Hinrich from the Bulls for minimal returns. But also, what would the rebuilding product look without the luck of the draft and John Wall? I shudder to imagine.
- However, this team, even in rebuilding mode, had some glaring inefficiencies that were easily observed long ago. And now, they clearly have had a detrimental effect upon the on-court product — most notably, a lacking inside presence (demonstrated by both offensive and defensive numbers) and lack of adequate outside shooting (the Wizards are in the bottom third of the NBA in both 3p%, .338, and 3pM/G, 5.4). Solutions to these areas are not found overnight, but more creativity could have been used in seeking stop-gaps for this season.
- Many people, such as myself, are not GMs … but it’s evident that these player personnel issues could have been better addressed while continuing to assume minimal financial risk for the future (if not less – see: OKC trade for Daequan Cook/18th pick from Miami in return for the 32nd pick).
- A post by Washington Post editors on Wizards Insider came close to insinuating that my DCist piece was calling for Flip Saunders’ job … not necessarily the case.
- Flip Saunders is a good coach. He hasn’t been provided with the best roster — or even a balanced roster (as Saunders has made subtle complaints to this point, before and after the Gilbert Arenas trade) — so much of the blame for current and past woes lies on the basketball operations side. But the jobs of both Saunders and Ernie Grunfeld are connected, as in Grunfeld hired Saunders. On June 19, 2003, the Wizards hired Eddie Jordan before bringing Grunfeld on board on June 30 (Grunfeld was released from his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks on June 29; on June 27, he traded Sam Cassell and Ervin Johnson to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Joe Smith and Anthony Peeler) … So there are some sensitivities in which position begets the other. I’m not saying that a GM/team president ‘must’ make coaching calls, but it would help if he was in on the process, in the least.
- These are not easy decisions to make, they are “bold” decisions … but also ones which require due diligence and should not be a salve to a frustrated fan base.
- Then again, the fans have seen enough … Perhaps Grunfeld’s past record, before the Leonsis regime, is simply not as much of a factor when it should be.
- To put it another way, Flip Saunders is doing a decent job of developing some of his young players who are coach-able. Those who are not coach-able should be shown the door. But by whom? Should the responsibility of purging the team of unintelligent and unwilling players be tasked to the person who put them there in the first place? Maybe an individual is the best person to correct his own mistakes … I don’t know … but in this instance, that doesn’t seem to be the idea frame for a true rebuilding project.
- It’s not an outlandish opinion or reaction to say that certain aspects of the Wizards’ basketball operations team have gotten stale over the past seven years … but can you get rid of a GM/team president while keeping the coach? What will that do to the coach? Or the GM’s replacement?
- Again, these are not easy decisions to make, but at this point, speaking of Saunders specifically, there’s not a compelling reason to fire him in the middle of this season. As much conviction that Saunders might lack with a young team, it could be more detrimental to their development to have a shocking change of scenery as their effort in games, albeit losses, seems to be mounting … for most players at least.
- I have no problem with Groupon or with the fact that the team is using Groupon to get butts in seats — I actually think it’s a great idea — but sometimes “new age” sales tactics can be poked fun at. Oh well. Roll with the jabs.
- And yes, you do occasionally see ads for Groupon on this very site. Most of them are actually driven by Google AdSense (at least those you might see on the top-level banner or the long side banners). There are small Groupon “banners” to the right under the site’s top image and one at the very bottom of the right-hand side bar. These are simply generic Groupon place-holders which don’t necessarily display product-specific ads. Essentially, I would like to further “monetize” this site with Groupon offerings, but have personally fallen short on taking that next step. Content, not ads, is the goal. We are a small operation with day jobs. It happens.
- Ted Leonsis doing a great job and I applaud his efforts … but just as hard as rebuilding is on fans and those who cover the team, it will be just as hard on a very present owner who is trying in earnest to counteract negativity — “Pixels of Despair” — with uber-positivity.
- The bumps and bruises and tough times don’t just happen on the court … painful work now will hopefully pay off with an even better feeling about accomplishment in the future.
- But until then, we can beg to differ on certain aspects of the “process.”
- Read this, I wasn’t trying to confuse the author.
Gilbert Arenas evidently has a forth-coming tell-all interview with Comcast’s Chris Miller. Part one is to debut at 6 pm tonight. Here’s the teaser…
Rashad Mobley talks about the return of Gilbert in TAI’s column in the DCist this week.
Arenas recently sat out of a game with “knee confusion” … which was his best injury since verbal diarrhea. Actually, it’s his best injury since the team endorsed him faking sick so he wouldn’t have to be served paternity papers during a nationally televised game between the Wizards and Kings in Sacramento on March 28, 2006 from the current lady he is having “issues” with, Laura Govan, the mother of Arenas’ three children with one on the way. Hmmm … do I detect potential related funny business on Friday night? Will Arenas even show up in D.C.? I have my suspicions.
Read the excerpt pertaining to Colin Cowherd and John Wall in this post about the worst men in sports.
I liked this post by ‘Bullets Nation in Exile’ about establishing head coaching responsibility.
Ernie Grunfeld talks to HoopsWorld, doesn’t say much ... HoopsWorld infers that the Wizards are unlikely to make any moves before the trade deadline.
Mark Cuban via the Star-Telegram:
Owner Mark Cuban chose not to divulge why the Mavs decided to part ways with [Josh] Howard.
“You have to talk to Josh about that,” Cuban said. “I’m dying to say it, but I won’t say it.”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Dan Snyder might be trying to sue the Washington City Paper because of this very excellent Nov. 2010 article by the WCP’s Dave McKenna. Here’s one of the classy responses from the City Paper. Mr. Irrelevant chimes in with blog posts for which Snyder could sue them. What type of insecure S.O.B. does Snyder have to be to accuse McKenna and Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog of conspiracy? How stupid are the public relations people who Snyder surrounds himself with? Par for the course for one of the worst team owners in sports history.
Chris Jackson/Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is still getting buckets in Japan! Fact: my dad had LSU Tigers men’s basketball season tickets for the 1989-90 season when Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal and Stanley Roberts (among others) all played for Dale Brown’s team. He and I didn’t travel to all the Tiger home games that season from where we lived 2.5 hours away, but we went to more than half, if not 75-percent of them. What a team that was … just wish I was older than 9-years old at the time … too young to remember/understand.
Let’s close with some nice defense from Nick Young.