As the NBA season approaches, Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld will continue to be the topic of conversation amongst Wizards fans, especially since he’s entering the final year of his contract. Wizards owner, Ted Leonsis, purchased the team in 2010 and was willing to give Grunfeld a clean slate, but now that his contract is shortly expiring, he’s got to become more critical of his performance during his time as owner.
Leonsis recently spoke to WUSA’s Dave Owens about Ernie Grunfeld and his future with the Wizards:
Ernie Grunfeld, your GM, people have been calling for his head for years and years. The patience of Ted Leonsis with a guy who’s got almost 200 more losses than wins, what it is about him that you see that made you say I’m not gonna get rid of him, I’m not gonna fire him, I’m gonna stay with Ernie?
Well, it’s a plan that we articulated together, Leonsis answered. This is my fourth season owning the team. Whatever circumstances there were beforehand, they didn’t deal with me. And Ernie is very well respected around the league. We’ve blown the team up, John Wall is our most tenured player, and I worked with Ernie and we articulated a plan and we’ve been executing the plan together. This is an important year for the franchise. We want to take a step forward and we want the team to play better and qualify for the playoffs. And I have a lot of confidence in the front office and the coaching staff and the players that we’re taking the right steps and measures, that we can be a playoff team.
When asked about whether or not the Wizards were under the “hot seat”, Leonsis replied with “We’re all on the hot seat”, which I found particularly interesting. Of course, the word “all” is pretty vague, since he’s suggesting that everyone is under some sort of pressure in our lives. Despite the broadness of Leonsis’ answer, I like that he acknowledged that they were indeed on the “hot seat.”
Both Ernie Grunfeld and Wizards head coach Randy Wittman are entering the final seasons of their contracts, and I think it’s safe to assume that if they don’t achieve their playoff goals, their days in the nation’s capital could be numbered. Washington’s brass has full confidence in their roster’s ability to make the post season, so as Leonsis said, we’ll just have to see what happens.
How do you feel about Leonsis’ comments on Ernie Grunfeld? Did you interpret them differently? Let me know in the comment section.