Wiz of Awes Round Table: Ernie Grunfeld


A week ago today the news of Ernie Grunfeld’s contract extension became known. And for the most part the reaction was negative. We know Umair Khan supported the decision to give Ernie Grunfeld an extension, but how did some others here at Wiz of Awes feel about it?

Kevin Hine

Last Monday the Wizards were in the middle of their blowout win over the Charlotte Bobcats. Halftime came and I was just about to go get some pop-tarts during the intermission, but just as I was about to get up from the computer, my twitter timeline began to fill and my phone began to blow up.

I figured that something happened. It turned out that Ernie Grunfeld signed a contract extension to remain the Wizards’ GM.

I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. I hoped that Ted Leonsis would give Grunfeld a pat on the back, thank him for cleaning up his mess, and hire someone else to carry out the next phase of his rebuilding plan. But I never fully believed it would happen. So this news wasn’t surprising.

I like how the Wizards played after the trade deadline. I like the six game winning streak at the end of the season. I love how Kevin Seraphin has developed. All of these are good signs, but haven’t we seen this movie before? Two years ago in the spring of 2010, Andray Blatche looked like a long-term piece in the Wizards rebuilding plan, and the team has always played well down the stretch when the games means nothing. I’m not saying that Kevin Seraphin is the new Andray Blatche — not at all. It’s just an interesting parallel.

I’m not excited or happy about Ernie being retained, but I do like the Wizards roster going forward, and I’m excited to see what happens this off-season with the draft and head coaching search in particular.

There could be some very bright days ahead for the Wizards. I just hope Ernie doesn’t find a way to screw it up.

James Straton

You’ve got to respect Ernie for what he’s done lately. He rid the Wizards of Gilbert Arenas’ contract without using the amnesty clause, and turned a poo-poo platter of JaVale McGee (still love him) and Nick Young into Nene and, more importantly, Brian Cook. Hell, even Jan Vesely looks like he might actually be able to play basketball someday and that has to count for something considering we were ready to label him a bust not so long ago.

Grunfeld isn’t without career blemishes, but as Umair summarized so beautifully in his piece on Ernie, you can’t completely blame the Gil years on Grunfeld. Gil and former owner Abe Pollin were attached at the hip, putting Grunfeld in a precarious situation. Plus, what were the Wizards going to do? Not sign Gilbert Arenas? It would have been the better basketball move in hindsight, but what would it have meant to the city? Not only was Gil idolized by the owner, he was an all-star and fan favorite. There was no way he wasn’t being resigned. I’m against paying inefficient scorers at all costs, but Grunfeld was not  keeping his job if he didn’t ink Arenas. I can understand that, can’t you? What matters is that he got us out of the mess that we were mostly put in by Pollin.

I’m hanging on to what Grunfeld has done since Wall arrived. Wizard fans (myself included) have lashed out in anger for the way this team was constructed, as it appeared to be the worst possible roster construction for a growing franchise point guard. The 2012 Wizards were reliant on Nick Young, JaVale McGee, and Andray Blatche as major pieces when, in fact, those three were never meant to be anything other than role players on the Gilbert Arenas “Big Three” squad. Young, McGee, and Blatche were contract holdovers from the days of old, never meant to be significant contributors on a good team. It seems that Ernie knew this full well, as he has ditched two and seems poised to sever ties with the largest of the bunch.

Grunfeld has weathered an awful storm and set this team up exactly as Ted Leonsis would like. Leonsis has a master plan in place that is slow to materialize, but with a little luck in the draft, should prove fruitful. Grunfeld has gone all-in with this plan, much to the chagrin of casual fans but much to the enjoyment of Mr. Leonsis. The Wiz were never meant to compete this year and we shouldn’t blame Grunfeld for that. With a top five draft pick, lots of cap room in the future, and young talent like Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin, it should be no surprise that Leonsis liked enough of what he saw to extend Grunfeld.

Ben Mehic

I’d have to say, I was pretty surprised to hear about the possibility of Ernie Grunfeld being retained.

With all the reports saying that the Wizards were looking at a different direction, I was fairly surprised to hear the news of Grunfeld’s extension. With all the other names floating around, such as Danny Ferry, I’d expect Leonsis to at least interview the other candidates. The news came at a good time, as the Wizards won their fourth game in a row last Monday night vs. Charlotte.

Prior to the ‘Ted Leonsis Era’, Grunfeld had made some very questionable decisions. Extending Andray Blatche to a 5 year, 35 million dollar contract and trading away the fifth overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft may have gotten him fired in any other organization, not named the Washington Wizards. Wizards’ fans are quick to judge, and I admit, so was I.

During the ‘Ted Leonsis Era’, Grunfeld has done a fairly good job managing the team. Trading away Nick Young and JaVale McGee – who were two of the main culprits of the losing culture in D.C – was a great move. Not to mention, the Wizards received Nene who is a top ten NBA center when healthy.

Let’s not forget that Grunfeld was the mastermind behind the trades in which the Wizards received Kevin Seraphin from Chicago and Trevor Booker from Minnesota. As of right now, Booker and Seraphin are here to stay in terms of the rebuilding process. Both players, especially Seraphin, have given us great glimpses of what they can do for D.C in the future.

With all that being said, Ted Leonsis obviously judged Grunfeld based on his criteria during his ownership. Before I judge the move, I’ll wait to see what Grunfeld does in order to address the Wizards’ needs during the free agency period. Getting a solid player in the draft and not gambling on a raw player in this June’s draft is another factor I’ll look out for.

The Wizards recent success was probably the biggest motive for Grunfeld’s extension.