Washington Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke with the media for over 30 minutes on Thursday evening from team’s training camp on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. TAI was there. Below is part one of all that — some stuff in video, some in text.
TED Leonsis On…
>> TED LEONSIS ON: ROSTER TURNOVER
“It’s very sobering to have to enter a new season basically where John Wall is your most tenured player. That was by design. We knew we’d have to rebuild the team, and we did it fast. So I’m pleased that we’re able to pull the Band-Aid off quickly.”
Sobering, by design. Well done, Ernie Grunfeld. You were able to un-do what you did faster than anyone, ever (perhaps).
“Has anybody else ever tried that?” said Leonsis about completely clearing the roster since he took majority ownership of the Wizards in the summer of 2010.
Does anyone else want to try that? I guess it could be intriguing if you’re a new owner, but damn that Band-Aid hurt. And why were we wearing a Band-Aid again? Don’t people rip Band-Aids off once the wound is healed?
So many questions about Band-Aids… Let’s move on.
>> TED LEONSIS ON: NEW EDITION(s)
Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, and Ralph?
Nope, cool it now… we’re talking Trevor, Martell, Emeka, Jannero, and A.J. — (Ariza, Webster, Okafor, Pargo, and Price)
“I don’t hear a lot about ‘Me. My contract. My free agent year.’ I hear, ‘What can we do to contribute? What’s expected of me? What will be the definitions of success for the team?’ And that to me is a big cultural step that we’ve taken.”
“I’ve been struck by the immediate bonding and chemistry that these players are having. One, because of the character that we recruited and during the interview process the things that we were looking for. But secondly, because they know if they bond and play as a team, they’ll have more success.”
>> TED LEONSIS ON: BUILDING A FREE AGENT DESTINATION
“All of the stars and moon will have to align the right way, but I’m not shy about spending money and going and getting the right player.”
Leonsis outlines a good, patient, reasonable, and sound plan for rebuilding a team. Not many qualms here.
“I think it’s a process of draft, develop, retain; add through trades; get free agents at the right time. And free agents will know when it’s time when they can make a difference, and this offseason wasn’t that time. They don’t know what our identity is yet as a team.”
If you build it, they will come. Still need a lot of luck. Speaking of…
>> TED LEONSIS ON: MAGIC WANDS
Truth: retaining players longer is good for business, i.e., new employees are more expensive. And the more connected a player is to a market and vice versa, the better it usually is for all parties involved. These seem to be the facts, people.
But also, the “old fashioned and authentic” way of building teams should be balanced with the fact that this project began from nothing anyone has ever tried before (so Leonsis thinks, someone’s still go to do that damn research.)
Afterward, to a few media-types, the Washington Post’s Michael Lee brought up the drastic turnover by the Miami Heat from the 2009-10 season to 2010-11. They retained Joel Anthony, Carlos Arroyo, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, and Dwayne Wade from one season to the next. But also remember: Wade, Anthony and Haslem were all free agents during that 2010 summer when LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and several other new faces jumped on board. Plus, I think Pat Riley really does have a magic wand, or is a magic wand himself.
Nonetheless, how did Leonsis lose his magic wand? Is he not a Washington Wizard?
Drat, nobody asked him about changing the team’s name on Thursday.
>> TED LEONSIS ON: WHAT DOUG COLLINS TOLD HIM ABOUT HIS TEAM
Doug Collins also noticed that the Wizards, sans Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young, were different. Very astute.
Full Disclosure: Doug Collins was Kwame Brown’s first coach.
>> TED LEONSIS ON: THE PLAYOFFS
“Why not try to make the playoffs? Just a couple games over .500 seems to get you there, and that’s how the guys are looking at it. Who am I to argue with the players or coaches?”
Who am I to argue, either? Let’s argue at certain intervals of the season instead.