[Editor's note: This is the second piece on TAI by John Townsend, check out his first one here.]
photo courtesy of K. Praslowicz (Sjixxxy)'s Flickr - www.kpraslowicz.com
“Just because you have money doesn’t mean you should overspend on someone that won’t be a part of your long-term future. If the right opportunity comes along, I think you want to look at it, but I’ve said all along that we might save our powder for down the road, to see what the new CBA brings, to see if there’s a hard cap or a soft cap. We don’t really know all the rules going forward, so just because you have the cap room doesn’t mean you should go out and spend it if it’s not for the right player.”
These were wise words spoken by Wizards GM Ernie, a new herald for operational procedure and organizational preparedness, at a press conference on June 10. As a long-time Green Bay Packer fan (my first memories of football were watching Packers games at 4am in New Delhi, India with my Wisconsin-born dad), I understand and fully endorse building a team through the draft. There seem to be philosophical parallels between Grunfeld and Packers GM Ted Thompson, who firmly believes that the most effective way to build a winning football team is through the draft. Thompson sees free agency as a complementary tool which can be used to add the types of players to a roster that may otherwise be difficult to find. In practice, this means that the Packers re-sign as many of their own players possible. Rebuilding post-Mike Sherman, the Packers made 14 draft-day trades, all but one of them down, turning 31 picks into 44. The Packers’ picks filled the roster with solid “glue guys” and have been able to add impact players including QB Aaron Rodgers, FS Nick Collins, OLB Clay Matthews, TE Jermichael Finley, WR Greg Jennings, and NT BJ Raji. The result? The Packers are a team poised to make deep playoff runs every winter and are near the top of the NFL in just about every statistical category.
Ted Leonsis, the Wizards new majority owner, made public his commitment to building a “generationally great team” that will ultimately win a championship. Under new management, the Wizards will aim to hit their targets in the draft, spend prudently, create a competitive, cohesive team on the court that plays with an identity and within a system, and (most importantly) win games. In an open note to Wizards fans, Leonsis also dismissed the generalized notion that the franchise was unwilling and averse to bringing in free agents. Leonsis noted that that teams must consider using all of the tools at their disposal: the draft, free agency (small, medium, and large), rookie free agency, waiver wire pickups, developmental league players, and finding players in Europe.
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