“Nene is a versatile player who will bring experience and a physical presence to our frontcourt. He is a strong rebounder, tough defender and a fierce competitor. His veteran leadership and postseason experience will be a positive influence in our locker room.”
“Nene is coming to us from a winning program. He has played in a system that we admire. It is up tempo and high scoring and he has good hands; runs the floor well; and is very strong. He is a team first kind of player. He is about winning and is a respected teammate. He is a family man; a player who is secure in who he is; and a player who has battled through adversity and is dependable and strong in spirit.”
That same March 15 NBA trade deadline day, Derek Fisher was unceremoniously traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets, had his contract bought out, and then signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder that next week. Thunder general manager Sam Presti spoke of Fisher providing intangibles and veteran leadership to Kevin Durant, rookie Reggie Jackson and Russell Westbrook. Fisher did not shy away from the role: Read more »
[Remember planking? Or is G-Wiz just dead on Ted Leonsis' desk?]
Here at the 2012 NBA All-Star break, exactly halfway through Ted Leonsis’ three-year rebuilding plan, it’s hard to think about the future of the Washington Wizards without contemplating how they got here. Before this season, Leonsis stated that he wanted to rip the rear-view mirrors off his Ferrari of a franchise and only look forward. The glaring metaphorical omissions by the owner being, a) he may have made modifications to the car, but he didn’t change the driver, team president Ernie Grunfeld, and b) no race car driver would ever compete without a way to see behind them, else they put themselves in an unnecessarily dangerous situation. And we wonder why the Wizards are where they are now.
Teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz have been broken down and are now stocked with better future talent than the Wizards. The Cavaliers only got a trade exception, a couple future first-round picks and a couple second-round picks from Miami in return for LeBron James. But the key to their current situation was sending Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers for Baron Davis and a 2011 first round pick. That pick turned out to be the first overall selection, Kyrie Irving. Combined with Cleveland’s fourth pick, Tristan Thompson, and whatever player development they have working in their favor (really, look at Cleveland’s roster and tell me it’s more talented than the Wizards), the Cavaliers have achieved post-LeBron promise faster than anyone expected.
The Jazz were able to parlay Deron Williams off on Jay-Z and the Russians for a bounty of prospects — Derrick Favors and two first-round picks. One of those picks netted Utah Enes Kanter third overall in last year’s draft, and they used their own ninth pick to select Gordon Hayward in 2010. Utah also simply had a better core of players and better player development in place. They found Paul Millsap with the 47th overall pick in 2006. Al Jefferson came from Minnesota in a July 2010 exchange for Kosta Koufos, a first-round pick that turned out to be Donatas Motiejunas, and another future first-rounder. In rebuilding past the Deron Williams-Andrei Kirilenko-Mehmet Okur-Carlos Boozer core that was swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 Western Conference semi-finals, Utah put better veterans in place to support the young core now in development.
The Washington Wizards are a mess. They can team worse than they are, but the only one is the Charlotte Bobcats. They’ve, in brief times, competed against good teams, but always lose. They’ve given the Oklahoma City Thunder an anomaly to everyone’s surprise. They’ve gotten demoralized by teams very good, good, and mediocre, the LA Clippers working to migrate from good to very good status in their 107-81 blowout win over Randy Wittman’s team on Saturday night.
Washington has youth making lesson-learning mistakes, but they also have youngish mid-range veterans who continue to not “get it.” JaVale McGee, for instance, has more minutes of on-court development over his career than the likes of Ryan Anderson, Serge Ibaka and DeAndre Jordan. Yet those players, picked after McGee’s 18th position in the 2008 draft (21, 24 and 35 respectively), have developed into more indexed team intelligence for their franchises.
Jordan Crawford, age 23, is in the second year of a career that could go in a number of directions. Right now on a team like the Wizards, most of those don’t show a ton of promise, but there are glimmers. Nick Young, age 26, continues to show why he’s just another in a long line of capable NBA scorers who can’t do much else. In his fifth NBA season, he helps his team embody this quote said by Wittman after the loss to the Clippers:
“You have to read the situation and what they’re doing and not just play the play that’s supposed to be… they take this away, we’ve gotta do that. I don’t think we did the second part of it. They took this away and we just went ahead and tried to do it anyway.”
Continued success in team sports is achieved through sacrifice; the best squads accept this, understanding that individual achievements must sometimes be tabled for the betterment of the team—roll tape of Michael Jordan deferring to Steve Kerr in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals.
When great players are unwilling to make sacrifices, Jordan has confessed, individual goals and accolades are even tougher to achieve. So why do the stubborn Wizards, selfish by self-description, refuse to play team basketball? The better question asks what can be done to change their approach.
The answer might surprise you: ramp up competition for individual rewards.
Tonight the Washington Wizards officially dive into the Randy Wittman era, aiming to get him a win off the bat against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. Well, lowly is relative. The Bobcats are 3-14, the Wizards are 3-15. For this 3-on-3 drill, we have John Pettice of BobcatsPlanet.com along with TAI’s Rashad Mobley and John Converse Townsend. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) You have to start a new team in India and you get to take four players from the rosters Washington and Charlotte with you. The caveat is that you must choose three players from one team, and only one player from the other team. Who you got and why?
The Washington Wizards held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to announce that assistant Randy Wittman was promoted to replace head coach Flip Saunders, who was relieved of his duties that morning. Team president Ernie Grunfeld was on hand as well to field questions from the media. Wittman will finish out the remaining of the season as the interim head coach, the rest of the coaching staff was retained.
Wittman emphasized his experience being an interim head coach:
“I have coached in this league on a number different teams. It is not an easy transition. I have done this before and I have been on a staff and taking over in the middle of the season. I know what is about and what change needs happen to try to make this a positive situation … The main thing that I learned the first time that I stepped in — this is even more magnified because of the condensed schedule and playing so many games without practice time — we just got to simplify things … you can’t flood these guys with information overload … just two or three things to concentrate on and take the baby steps after there.”
The removal of Saunders brought a level of personal sadness:Read more »
Today’s Washington Wizards News Fit For Photoshop Pixels
‘Wizards Shopping Blatche’
…Said ESPN’s Marc Stein on the Daily Dime last Friday. And look, everyone knows that when you shop an Andray Blatche, you shop him hard. We’re talking Costco free samples style. Because there’s no better way to get customers hooked than to give them a taste on the house. It also works in the hardcore drug dealing game as seen on television.
Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves… on a Sunday afternoon when you will likely be watching playoff football, the Wizards will be trying to secure their first win of the season. For today’s 3-on-3, we have Benjamin Polk from the ESPN TrueHoop Network T-Wolves blog, A Wolf Among Wolves, along with TAI’s Sam Permutt and yours truly, Kyle Weidie. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) That David Kahn fellow… Can the future of the franchise be trusted in his hands? And with Ricky Rubio playing well, how much credit does he get for taking advantage of Ernie Grunfeld by sending him the always underachieving Mike Miller and Randy Foye for the pick that brought Rubio to Minnesota?
PERMUTT: I don’t pretend to know whether Kahn can be trusted… and that’s what makes him such an entertaining GM. He’s like the guy in your fantasy league who you secretly admire because he picks with no regard for predicted rank—except he has a real team! As for Grunfeld flipping the fifth pick into Miller and Foye, I still say that was a solid move for both teams. The fact that it turned into Rubio two years later is good for the T-Wolves (and Kahn), but Grunfeld shouldn’t be blamed.
POLK: You know, I really have no idea. Although Kahn has certainly made more than his share of personnel mistakes, I do feel like his rep as a bumbler has been exaggerated by his abrasive personality and the weird things he says. That said, the Rubio/Miller-Foye trade is, in my opinion, the best thing he’s ever done. Now if he’d just found some way to avoid taking Jonny Flynn at six…