Tag Archive | "Ernie Grunfeld"

Grunfeld Building a Contender with Stellar Off-Season

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Grunfeld Building a Contender with Stellar Off-Season

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Nick Dorsey

 

The Washington Wizards 2013-14 season was among the most successful the franchise has had in quite sometime. There is a lot of momentum from last season to build off of and general manager Ernie Grunfeld had a task ahead of him going into the off-season. Continuity was the main goal and for the most part they succeeded.

Priority number one for the organization was bringing back center Marcin Gortat. Washington acquired the Polish center from the Phoenix Suns in a trade last off-season and a first round pick was part of the price. Gortat had one of the best years of his career averaging 13 points, nearly 10 rebounds and had 37 double-doubles.

Gortat was a big difference maker for the Wizards last year and they could not afford for him to walk. He helped elevate the franchise to a playoff contender and giving up a first rounder for Gortat made him nonexpendable. The front office took care of priority number one by signing the Polish center to a five year $60 million deal.

The second priority for Grunfeld was bringing back starting small forward Trevor Ariza. The 10-year veteran had one of the better seasons in his career averaging 14 points and shooting 40% from the three-point line. Ariza also brought a great defensive presence and should have gotten recognized for his defensive skills on one of the All-NBA defensive teams.

Ariza wanted the big contract, as he was most likely entering his last big free agency period of his career. Wanting long-term financial security, this was his best time to get that.

Washington did not want to overspend for the services of Ariza, but they expressed interest in bringing him back. Unfortunately, they were unable to come to an agreement and Ariza chose to sign with the Houston Rockets for a four-year deal worth $32 million.

The loss of Ariza at first left a large hole for the former third overall selection Otto Porter to fill, but Grunfeld made a big move.
Former Brooklyn Net Paul Pierce signed on the dotted line and was officially a Washington Wizard. This move came as a bit of a surprise to many, but it is a move that had to happen. There are several different opinions about Pierce at this point in his career, but this was an outstanding addition to the roster.

Entering his 17th season, Pierce played a career low last year in terms of minutes per game. He might have some age to him, but Pierce brings qualities to this team they desperately need.

When Ariza left for Houston, a lot of experience within this team was lost. Trevor Ariza won a championship with the Lakers and brought that championship experience to a team that was so young and not full of playoff experience. The Wizards now get that back with Pierce, who has won a championship with Boston and was once awarded Finals MVP.

Washington was able to close games in their first round series against the Chicago Bulls, but found difficulty in closing out games against the Indiana Pacers. Bradley Beal was that guy first round, but Paul George made it tough for him second round to do so. Nobody else was able to step up in that role and Paul Pierce brings that ability with him.

The Truth is known as one of the more clutch players in the NBA and is one of the best closers. With the experience he brings to the lineup, no stage is too big for him and it will rub off on the rest of the squad.

Otto Porter is due to get an increased workload this year and right now the Pierce signing does not limit that. Pierce will be great for Porter from a mentor standpoint and he is not killing a severe amount of playing time for the second year player. With Pierce only getting about 28 minutes a game last season, Porter will still get plenty of minutes to gain experience.

This situation could get a little tricky over a month into the season once Martell Webster gets back onto the floor. For now, the signing of Pierce is a huge addition for the Wizards due to the experience he brings and the ability to close out in the big moments.

Washington has other needs to address this off-season such as providing better depth in the front-court and adding another guard to the mix. The Wizards made several trades in the past few days to add to the depth in the front-court.

Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair were added to the roster through sign and trade deals. Humphries is a solid shooter from mid range much like Nene, except he is not as physical and defensively sound as Nene. Blair appears undersized at 6’7 for the low post, but he is a physical player able to rebound and score inside well.

With Drew Gooden set to return as well, the Wizards front court depth is much better heading into the season than they were last year. The roster is almost set nearing the 15-player maximum and Washington has flexibility with that last spot.

Ernie Grunfeld has done a tremendous job of building a contender in the Eastern conference. He has done a great job of setting up the team for success now, but also the future as well. Many of the new acquisitions have short-term deals with player options in the mix. These contracts give an opportunity for the front office to clear up a good amount of cap space.

This flexibility with the roster and the salary cap already is raising discussions on whether the Wizards are positioning themselves to make a run for Kevin Durant in 2016. With the LeBron returning home story just happening, eyes are already gazing upon Durant to potentially make a return home to DC.

Landing Durant is a possibility with an attractive roster to surround himself with and the cap room to get a big deal. It also bodes well for Washington when they chose to hire Durant’s former high school coach David Adkins. The pieces are falling into place for the potential signing, but that time is out on the horizon.

The Wizards took a big step as a franchise last season winning their first playoff series since 2005. With playoff experience gained and good pieces added to the roster, Grunfeld has the Wizards set to be a big-time contender in the Eastern Conference.

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Wizards sign veteran F Harrington

Posted on 14 August 2013 by WNST Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed forward Al Harrington. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

“Al’s all-around game and reputation as a leader make him a solid fit with our team,” said Grunfeld. “He will give us additional depth and experience in the frontcourt, the ability to stretch defenses and another proven veteran in the locker room.”

In 15 seasons with Indiana, Atlanta, Golden State, New York, Denver and Orlando, Harrington has appeared in 947 career regular season games (445 starts) while averaging 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 29.0 minutes per contest. He has shot .445 (4,946-11,111) from the field, .352 (943-2,678) from three-point range and recorded 103 career double-doubles. During the 2011-12 season, Harrington averaged 14.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 64 games with Denver. The former first round pick has played in 48 career postseason games, averaging 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per contest. Harrington’s most productive season came during the 2008-09 campaign where he averaged a career-best 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds in 73 games with Golden State (5) and New York (68). He was originally selected by Indiana with the 25th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft out of St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, N.J.

Harrington was waived by Orlando on August 2, 2013. The Magic originally acquired the veteran forward from Denver on August 10, 2012, as part of a four-team, 12-player deal. He played in 10 games with the Magic last season averaging 5.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 11.9 minutes per contest after missing the first 54 games of the season recovering from a right knee meniscus repair and ensuing staph infection.

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Grunfeld

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Grunfeld Taking a Wiz on D.C.

Posted on 19 December 2012 by Brett Dickinson

Ernie GrunfeldAfter watching and following the Wizards for the past several years, only one thing comes to mind. To quote the great Vince Lombardi, “what the hell is going on out here?” No team can be more infuriating in this massive media market, than the basketball team in D.C. It all starts and finishes with one man, who has torpedoed the franchise from a consistent playoff team to the garbage that witnessed at the Verizon Center in China Town.

Luckily for Ernie Grunfeld, Michael Jordan took over another flailing franchise, or talks across the NBA would consider the Wizards one of the worst teams in the history of the game. Yet, Grunfeld returned to D.C. for another season of empty seats and an even emptier effort on the court. Now may be it is the beloved owner, Ted Leonsis’, fault for trying to instill the same ideals that have made the Capitals so relevant and successful in the NHL for such a long stretch.

This is the NBA, where building through the draft, as noble as it sounds, does not work for 90% of the teams and championships are won through free agency and buying superstars. And in a top 5 market, with a team that has a deep pocketed owner and the luxury of a fan base extending from Virginia to Maryland, spending money shouldn’t be a problem. But even if the youth movement was the goal for this team, Grunfeld completely threw that philosophy out the window with his ineptitude. He has done a halfway decent job selecting role players but it if weren’t for the luxury of picking in the top 3, two out of three seasons, this roster would have no one to build upon. John Wall can become a star but is hindered by the team around him. Bradley Beal was the best pick for this team, but what if the Bobcats took him instead, one pick before? Which role player would be riding the bench for the Wizards right now? The point is, Grunfeld has never had a good draft and only selected Wall and Beal because they were handed to him.

You can’t build through the draft with a GM that cannot draft talent.

Let’s start from the beginning to realize where and why the D.C. demise has come about. Gilbert Arenas really screwed things up, not just for his gun toting locker room antics, but his balky knees and massive contract he stole from Mr. Leonsis’ pockets. Arenas gave little for his contract and was soon on his way out of the Capital, once John Wall was drafted. But that also coincided with Grunfeld convincing everyone in the organization that the young core of Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Javal McGee would develop into a formidable starting roster.

To build a team around the dumbest three players is not only idiotic in itself but egotistical and irresponsible. Basically, Grunfeld fed Wizards fans hot dog water and presenting it as French Wine. Now they have all been moved, and even though the moves removed three cancers from a locker room, the return makes no sense, what so ever.

They received absolutely nothing for Nick Young to the Clippers or Blatche to the Nets; literally. But the big mistake was reprising McGee for Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza’s massive contracts, depleting the most valuable chip the team had; cap room.

James HardenFinally, and the last straw for a General Manager that makes a living of destroying a team and basketball fan base, was the move, or lack thereof, this offseason. Yahoo Sports reported that Grunfeld turned down an offer which included, No. 3 draft pick, Bradley Beal and last year’s top pick, Chris Singleton from the now Rockets star, James Harden. Now Beal could become a star but is more likely to be Alan Houston instead of Ray Allen (which many have compared him to). But we know what Singleton is (a decent defensive player off the bench) and we now know what James Harden is; a legit star that is carrying a Houston Rockets team to the playoffs. Not to mention he, along with his sweet man beard, is marketable and could rebuild an excitement at the Verizon Center. Harden is probably the third best shooting guard in the league (behind Kobe and Dwayne Wade) but was not worth two unproven Grunfeld draft picks.

Here at WNST Nestor started the initiative to “Free the Birds” from the Peter Angelos reigns. Well I’ll be the first here to say it is time to “Free the Wizards” from the ineptitude that is Ernie Grunfeld’s tenure. This story will continue with a look towards the future coming soon.

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