In this series I will do what everyone enjoys doing most as sports fans and imagine myself being the man in charge of decision making for my favorite team. In this case that is Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld, who mystifyingly has been recently rewarded with a contract extension, despite any evidence he deserves it. Regardless, I have been a Wizards fan for a long time now and if I haven’t stopped by now I don’t think it will happen any time soon. It is possible for DC to be built into a championship contender and I would very much like to see that happen. Fortunately, owner Ted Leonsis wants this too, he is a tech savvy gentleman, and some decision makers read persuasive online material. I’d be happy and content if he just considered my advice. Before anything else this summer, the team needs to make decisions on GM Ernie Grunfeld, Coach Randy Wittman, Andray Blatche, and Rashard Lewis. If I were Ted Leonsis I would…
Decision #1: Let Ernie Grunfeld Go
Ernie Grunfelds contract was set to expire this off-season. I would have let that happen. Grunfeld has an extensive track record of failure as a decision maker, which I’ve chronicled here on this blog. He has a strong tendency to vastly over value his own decisions and almost always takes too long to acknowledge mistakes and correct them, if he corrects them at all. There are good options out there such as former Blazers GM Tom Pritchard or you could choose a young upstart from Oklahoma City or San Antonio.
Regardless of Grunfelds track record, the team is in a rebuilding mode and has chosen to start fresh. I say make a full recovery and do a complete reset. This was a chance to start completely new and the Wizards missed the opportunity. Unfortunately, Leonsis and I are not on the same page with this.
Decision #2: Re-sign Randy Wittman
Ex-Portland head coach Nate McMillan is a great option but he likes to play slow and his system does not fit the players we have. Because of this we should re-sign coach Randy Wittman. He has done a great job building a winning culture with this team. He always stresses the right way to play and if a player is hurting the team he has no problem calling them out or benching them. I’ve been very impressed with his press conferences because he always seems to have a very good idea of the teams weaknesses and what they need to do to get better. It’s no surprise to me then to see the teams vast improvement over the course of the season.
Decision #3: Amnesty Andray Blatche
Andray Blatche is signed to one of the worst contracts in the league. He is owed between 7 and 8.5 million a year until after the 2014-15 season. He has never been an average player in the league and recently his play has been far worse than his norm. The fans are done with him as well as he is routinely and heavily booed every time he makes a bad play on the court, which is essentially every time he does anything on the court. He is untradable, even for equally disappointing players like Tyrus Thomas. The team’s only option now is to cut their losses (literally) and use their amnesty provision on Andray Blatche.
Decision #4: Buy-out Rashard Lewis
Originally my position was that we should keep Rashard Lewis as a potentially very attractive expiring contract for this seasons trade deadline. That idea stopped when we extended Ernie Grunfeld. This is because we would have to take back a similar amount of salary in such a trade. I don’t trust Grunfeld to not strangle the team with a terrible contract. Lewis contract is only partially guaranteed, to the amount of roughly 8 million. That generates 15 million dollars in cap room this summer for the team, when combined with Blatche’s amnesty that number shoots up to 22 million in additional cap room this summer.
Fantasy State of the Wizards Recap:
Owner: Ted Leonsis
GM: Rob O’Malley
The team is set at point and center with John Wall and Nene. We have several good, young complementary pieces in Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, and Chris Singleton. Jordan Crawford has to go but at least he’s not very expensive. The Wizards will have a top five selection in the draft as well as 17+ million in cap room, depending on which selection that becomes. Morris Almond, Cartier Martin, and James Singleton all played well enough to be considered for next years roster but those decisions will come after the draft. I think we’d be in a pretty good spot right now.