[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.”
“Ball Don’t Lie!,” goes the famous saying, extended into pixels forever thanks to Rasheed Wallace. It’s entirely possible that Wallace, when he was a member of the Detroit Pistons, picked up the phrase from his coach, Flip Saunders. Wallace, however, was also said to use it as a member of the Portland Trailblazers. So maybe Flip learned it from watching him. And who knows where Rasheed got it from.
There’s a YouTube video of Wallace saying it during a Pistons-Milwaukee Bucks game after an Andrew Bogut missed free-throw. Ironically, there’s also footage of Saunders, as Pistons coach, saying “Ball don’t lie,” after a Gilbert Arenas missed technical free-throw for the Washington Wizards. Little did Flip know then how much he’d later be involved with Gilbert. But the ball, according to Saunders, isn’t the only think that does not lie. Game film doesn’t lie either.
On Saturday afternoon, after an embarrassing home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in their first preseason game on Friday, the Wizards returned to the scene of the crime. First up, a lengthy film session to review the 103-78 defeat.
“When you watch film, film doesn’t lie,” said Saunders. “You can see in the film who’s doing the right things, who’s doing the wrong things.”
The Milwaukee Bucks game seems like it was ages ago. And when deciding which aspect of the game to break down, I was conflicted at first. Should it be what happened after Gilbert Arenas went down at the 7:12 mark in the fourth quarter, specifically, the 9-0 run that occurred in the two minutes after that?
Naw, why focus on the positive? This team will only improve if they continue to recognize and remember what went wrong. And with the Wizards, there’s usually a lot to choose from. What obviously came to mind was the 32 points scored by Michael Redd, his first 30+ point effort since January 16, 2009.
If I posed to question to you, ‘Who was responsible for letting Redd have his way on the offensive end, including him getting to the free-throw line so much, where he went 15-15?,’ you would probably say, ‘Randy Foye.’ And I would say, ‘You are a correct, astute observer of the Wizards, sir.’
Everyone is certainly happy that Foye has recently arisen from the depths or irrelevancy … probably not enough for Ernie Grunfeld to retain him after the season … but there’s a lot of season left and victories in the small battles are worth feeling good about. Still, Foye is a poor perimeter defender, and the Wizards have a plethora of inefficient perimeter defenders.
Amare Stoudemire, Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, Manu Ginobili, Michael Redd, Josh Smith, Josh Howard, Kirk Hinrich and Andrei Kirilenko are just of the few of the tiny players jumping over a fence in the mind of the restless Ernie Grunfeld as he tries to fall into a slumber every night leading up to the draft on June 25.
But he can’t sleep. He sits up in bed, drenched in sweat. It’s 3:30 in the morning and he’s trying to plod through the day’s ninth showing of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. But the show doesn’t help take his thoughts away from the matter at hand. His mind is racing through Wizards trade scenarios instead. And if you don’t pay attention to those damned Law & Orders, especially the crime at the beginning, the show just becomes a scrambled mess.
The mess, parallel to the team Grunfeld commands, spills into the night and into the next day, all of which are becoming the same. The Wizards GM is on the verge of making the most important move during his tenure with the team.