You never know whether Ernie Grunfeld is tactfully maneuvering a press conference or if he’s on autopilot … much like the way he captains his ship.
The Wizards team president said a lot during his season-ending media-speak session on Tuesday afternoon, and below are some various quotes, presented with little context, but in the total spirit of Grunfeldisms.
The Washington Wizards are just one of four NBA franchises which haven’t tasted the playoffs in the last four seasons (since 2009-10). Its contemporaries: the Sacramento Kings, the Toronto Raptors, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Yes, the Charlotte Bobcats made the playoffs in 2010 if you’re wondering).
That doesn’t, however, mean that one can’t play for one of these recently–and some more permanently–forlorn franchises and not make the playoffs. There are plenty of ex-Washington Wizards in this year’s regular season afterlife.
Let’s dive into some names and see how these four teams compare. To be listed, ex-players must be on a current playoff roster, and not simply having played for a current playoff team at some point during the season. (Looking at you, Beno Udrih, ex-King who was traded from the Bucks to the Magic in February.)
[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 82, Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls; contributors: Kyle Weidie and Adam McGinnis from the District.]
Garrett Temple cleaned out his locker at the Verizon Center on Thursday and departed with its contents in a large, black trash bag. John Wall cleaned out his locker and left with a large, rolling suitcase.
Bags were packed, ready to go. Wall wore an adidas shirt and Zubaz-esque shorts. CSN’s Chris Miller had jokes. “Summertime fine,” snapped-back Wall. And the DC Sports Bog had a whole pixel post about the garb.
So with that, it’s summertime, John Wall, and Wizards fans.
“Watergate” – First it was a fancy Washington, D.C. hotel/apartment complex built in the late-1960s (well, maybe not first; there are other “Watergates” in existence, aside from the literal meaning of the word). Then it was a Presidential scandal in the early-1970s, which took place at said complex. Now, in the early-2010s, it is apparently a basketball expression, one that you’ve likely already seen in pixel form on this very website.
What “Watergate” means in basketball is easy enough to understand. Jumpers have long been “wet,” and the description of a ball going “splash” through the net probably came prior. So, when you’re talking “Watergate,” you’re talking about made jumpers. The term popularized itself around the Wizards locker room this season, but where did it come from?
What does a win really mean this late in the season?
One of the more divisive precepts of late-season NBA strategy is that of tanking. At the coaching level, it’s difficult to imagine the motivation for attempting to lose games. Even more difficult to imagine is a concerted effort by the players themselves to lose. For both players and coaches in a losing season, games played long after the specter of the playoffs has departed are sometimes as important as those early in the season. Several Washington players are still playing for quite a bit, and every game counts. A.J. Price, Garrett Temple and Cartier Martin are auditioning for a job, either with the Wizards or another NBA team. John Wall has made it reasonably clear that he’d like to receive a contract extension this summer, and his play in the last weeks of the season may inform any decisions to that end. To a lesser extent, Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton are playing to redefine their future roles.
With that said, front office employees are in a more complicated position. While mounting losses influence the team’s record in an obvious way and reflect poorly on the performance of team builders, owners are playing the long game, and understand that it may be in the team’s best interest, for better or worse, to lose as much as possible during the final stretch. Their knowledge of this reality should inform a relative leniency when it comes to resting “injured” players, or giving fewer minutes to starters, among other surreptitious tanking strategies which have been historically suspected of lottery-bound teams. Another, more productive goal may also be in play: late-season games provide on-the-job experience at full speed for young players who aren’t developed enough to play heavy minutes in meaningful games — like the 22-year old Jan Vesely. From an organizational standpoint, this is incredibly valuable. The average fan may not share that enthusiasm.
Without taking a position on the morality or healthiness of influenced losing, the tangible benefit of the Wizards losing their final game tonight can be readily discerned. The way things shake out across the Association on the last day of the season has the potential to slot Washington anywhere from No. 6 to 9 in terms of lottery odds and eventual draft slot, the latter of which far more important from a practical standpoint. While it would be nice to win the lottery, the best the Wizards can hope for is a 5.4 percent chance to land the first pick. The surer thing is where a losing team will draft if they don’t win one of the top three picks. After the first three spots are randomly decided, the unlucky rest of the lottery teams (picks Nos. 4 to 14) are slotted in the draft according to their record at the end of the season. Tiebreakers, in the NBA Draft Lottery, are determined by a coin flip for the purposes of positioning, but odds to land in the top three amongst teams with the same record are split as evenly as possible.
[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 81, Washington Wizards at Brooklyn Nets; contributors: Kyle Weidie from tape delay in the District, and Sean Fagan from tape delay in Brooklyn.]
Did Emeka Okafor really let
Andray Blatche do this?
[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 80, Washington Wizards vs Philadelphia 76ers; contributors: Adam McGinnis and Kyle Weidie from the Verizon Center, and Conor Dirks from the state of Georgia.]
OK, so it wasn’t ‘all’ about Nick. It was all about a poor showing from two teams that couldn’t care less. What had happened (at least according to Twitter)? Let’s check to story of Washington’s home finale loss to Philadelphia.
Doug Collins is on the hot seat, sort of… it seems. Reports out of Philadelphia have gone this way and that. Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo!’s “Ball Don’t Lie” has the essential run-down. The Sixers last played at home on Wednesday, a loss against the Atlanta Hawks; the news of Collins’ potential demise broke on Thursday. Thus, with Philly so close to Washington, some media swarmed down for the story (some seemingly specifically for the ‘story’ on Collins’ job). They didn’t get what they wanted. Collins refused to take the bait during tonight’s pre-game media season.
But, he did talk about this current Wizards team. One noteworthy quote:
“The one thing about the Wizards that I think has been amazing is Randy Wittman… is to start out 4-28 and have tremendous aspirations of making the playoffs, and to keep that group together… I think they’re 24-22 with John Wall. I had felt that going into the season, they were a playoff team, if healthy. What they’ve done is proven me right.”