Emperor Ernie Grunfeld, more formally known as Washington’s Team President of Basketball Operations, discusses the ever-evolving process, which is more NeverEnding Story (the movie) and less Law & Order (an episode). Grunfeld also reveals that the Cleveland Cavaliers actually won twice. After winning the first pick, Cleveland also won the third pick, so they had to re-draw and Washington’s combination came up.
Here is a secret of the NBA Draft Lottery, which, by revealing, will result in me being sequestered, along with the ping pong ball machine, for the next calendar year with only a representative from Ernst & Young for company. My general assumption was that the NBA took a commercial break before announcing the top three picks to build drama for the audience watching at home. This is true and effective to a large degree, but the real reason they take that commercial break is so that the assembled media hoard can descend three flights of stairs, run across the street under the escort of New York’s finest, and get cordoned off in the basement of the studio in which the show is taking place. It was there, surrounded by machinery lifts, cameras that have been put out to pasture, and around 100 sweating reporters, that I learned that the Wizards had won the third pick in the lottery. You are then escorted into a freight elevator and unleashed upon the stage where you push your way to your interviewee of choice. You see the weirdest sights on the draft floor, such as Flip Saunders having an extremely candid and friendly talk with Ernie Grunfeld, Damian Lillard looking for every possible escape route, and the spawn of Dan Gilbert lapping up the attention. (Other members of the Gilbert brood looked visibly annoyed that their youngest sibling has become the human horseshoe and the only thing worth talking about on draft night.)
In brief, a history of the Washington Wizards in the so-called “John Wall era.” At length, an exposition of the team’s front office and why the time for change is now.
“Point guards are not made, they’re delivered from heaven—and I believe he was delivered from heaven,” Flip Saunders said on “John Wall Day.” That’s what then-Washington, D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty dubbed the day after the NBA Draft when Wall was chosen first overall—June 25, 2010. Team brass wasted no time in welcoming highly-touted rookie to the city. Wall, who one day earlier signed a shoe deal with Reebok, was treated to door-to-Verizon Center limo service, red carpets, and had his mug posted on a billboard outside the arena. He even received an officially endorsed nickname, “The Game Changer.”
[This is Part Two of a two-part post on Washington Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld looking back at his almost 25-year tenure making player personnel decisions in the National Basketball Association. Part One can be read here.]
[This is Part One of a two-part post on Washington Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld looking back at his almost 25-year tenure making player personnel decisions in the National Basketball Association. Part Two can be read here.]
“I told you I was going to get
the best brains in basketball.”
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.
[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. 63, Washington Wizards vs Milwaukee Bucks; contributors: Rashad Mobley and John Converse Townsend from the Verizon Center and Kyle Weidie via eyes on a television screen.]
[Ed. Note: This is the 'official' TAI debut of Conor Dirks, longtime Wizards fan, Maryland transplant in the ATL. Follow him on Twitter: @ConorDDirks. -Kyle W.]
A pensive Ernie Grunfeld prepares to “explain.” Please allow him to do so.
In the last 10 years, the Wizards have had exactly one general manager, former NBA player Ernest Grunfeld. During Ernie’s tenure, the Wizards have amassed 475 losses, which is good for the second-most losses (tonight’s opponent, Minnesota, has the most) and third-worst winning percentage in the NBA over the last 10 years. The reason for the discrepancy between total losses and percentage is appropriately sad: the Charlotte Bobcats didn’t exist during Grunfeld’s first year with Washington.
It would be irresponsible to hold one individual wholly accountable for the failure of an organization with so many moving parts. However, after the trade of Jordan Crawford, and a recent history riddled with failed player development, it’s appropriate to try to ascertain what has gone wrong.
Bad draft picks and failed draft picks are not one and the same. Many of Ernie Grunfeld’s draft-day acquisitions have gone on to play significant roles in the NBA. However, the Wizards under Ernie Grunfeld have shown a complete lack of ability to develop and retain valuable players. Washington has also, during Grunfeld’s tenure, become notorious for dysfunction. This dysfunction isn’t endemic to D.C.’s team (see: Sacramento Kings), but the Verizon Center might be its headquarters. Read more »
Jordan Crawford was traded today, ya heard? A former 24-year old rebuilding chip was jettisoned to Boston for a couple 30-year old NBA vagabonds, Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins. #SoWizards? Perhaps. Here’s the rundown of reactions from the TAI crew…
It really is a shoulder shrugger (and a head-shaker). I mean, I care. I’ll miss Jordan Crawford. I wish he would have been a better player. I wish that the relationship between him and the franchise didn’t go down in such an epic, flaming bag of shit. But it did. Fighting off the desire to not overreact, but something is amiss with how this team handles players (not all players, mind you). Everyone in the league seems to know it and the owner seems completely oblivious to it. I’ll reiterate: During the time that Ernie Grunfeld has led the Wizards (since the ’03 Summer) only one NBA team has more losses than the Wizards: the Minnesota Timberwolves, with 482 losses to Washington’s 475. But now, Ernie is evidently doing exactly what Ted wants. So there’s that.
Crawford certainly did his part to wear out his welcome—an estimated 80 percent part, I’d say. In return for the diminished asset, the Wizards save a little bit of money. Nice, but certainly not part of the plan. The Theodore Unit wanted to develop young players who could either be used as trade pieces or as pillars for the rebuild. Instead, they are giving them away. On the other hand, Crawford was good, but he was not a system player. He wasn’t about quick ball movement, and he was rarely conscious about offensive spacing. He knew how to fire up shots with confidence, and he had the ability to drop fancy, no-look passes when his teammates weren’t ready. Hardly useful in terms of winning.