The San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, and Boston Celtics are a few examples of what well run organizations have looked like over the years. These organizations have shown aptitude and have earned respect throughout the league over time.
Some main criteria would include: An owner not afraid to make a change, competent/strategic General manager, development of young players, utilization of the draft, and spending money wisely.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Washington Wizards would fall under the category of a poorly run organization. This is thanks in large part to General Manager Ernie Grunfeld. For those of you unaware or don’t follow the Washington Wizards, Ernie Grunfeld has been a quintessential dark cloud over the Wizards’ organization during his tenure. Looked at as an untouchable force, Grunfeld has a number of questionable moves on his resumé that Wizards’ fans have been subjected to over the years. Let’s take a look at the five worst Ernie Grunfeld moves during his time with the Washington Wizards.
- Taking on Rashard Lewis’ huge contract
- Trading Jordan Clarkson away for cash
- The Eric Maynor signing
The 5 Worst Ernie Grunfeld Moves
Gilbert Arenas Contract Extension
Once known as one of the top scorers of his generation, Gilbert Arenas is also known for one of the worst contract extensions of all time. After three All-star appearances and three consecutive years of averaging 25+ points per game, Arenas was given a 6 year, $111 million contract extension in 2008. However, Arenas had only played 13 games in 2008 and was entering the back end of his career.
General manager Ernie Grunfeld made the mistake of paying Arenas based on his prior accomplishments, instead of taking future finances into account. After signing his extension, Arenas was riddled with knee injuries in the 2008-09 season and only appeared in 2 games. To make matters worse, Arenas was involved in “Gun Gate” in the 2009-10 season and was suspended by the NBA shortly after. Then Arenas was eventually traded by the Wizards in the 2010-11, but the damage had already been done and they were still stuck with paying off the contract. This contract was so bad that Arenas received his last check from Washington in October of 2016.
2009 NBA Draft
On the heels of the Gilbert Arenas gun incident, the Washington Wizards had a chance to put that behind them and draft some young talent. Entering the 2009 draft, the Wizards’ possessed the 5th overall pick. Logically, the ideal scenario would involve drafting an impact player to mold into the new face of the franchise and move on from Arenas. Sadly, Ernie Grunfeld traded the 5th overall pick and acquired Mike Miller and Randy Foye. Who were some of the players the Wizards passed up on, you might ask? DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, and just the two-time league MVP Stephen Curry.
The duo of Randy Foye and Mike Miller both averaged 10 points a game and ended up leaving at the end of a 26-56 season for the Wizards. This lead to one of the darkest periods in Wizards history…
The trio of JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche, and Nick Young was one of the darkest periods for the Washington Wizards. Something Ernie Grunfeld will never be able to hide from, the birth of Shaqtin’a’fool MVP Javale McGee and Swaggy P. To dive further into this, the Washington Wizards were for lack of a better word just straight up bad. Forward Andray Blatche was once a productive backup to Antwan Jamison, but once asked to lead a rebuilding Wizards’ team he quickly showed his true colors.
Whether it was his fascination with going out to strip clubs on game nights, fighting with teammates or not staying in game shape, Blatche was a horrible role model for the younger Wizards’ players. The immaturity of that locker room is still talked about to this day and the sad part is a rookie John Wall was drafted right into that mess.
If the San Antonio Spurs are the model franchise for finding European and foreign talent, then the Washington Wizards would qualify as the total opposite. Owner Ted Leonsis and General manager Ernie Grunfeld have made it a point of emphasis to look for European talent. Unfortunately, the Wizards have failed to even find a regular rotation player. In 2006, Washington drafted Oleksiy Pecherov with the #18 Pick. Pecherov averaged 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game and is no longer in the league. The biggest misfire came in the 2011 draft, Washington was in desperate need of small forward, but decided to draft a power forward Jan Vesely from the Czech Republic.
This pick still haunts Wizards’ fans to this day, because they passed up on two-times defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard when they needed a small forward. Vesely went on to have a career average of 2.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game and was eventually traded.
My personal favorite! As many of you know by now, Kevin Durant is a native of the DC Metropolitan area. The goal for two years was to give Kevin Durant the hometown free agency pitch, in order to lure Durant to the Wizards. General manager Ernie Grunfeld geared up for two seasons and was said to have “A plan” in place to get Durant here. The plan included 8 expiring player contracts and the hiring of his former coach Scott Brooks. Not only did this so-called “Plan” backfire, but Washington didn’t even manage to land a meeting with Durant. Two years of planning for your one and only shot to bring a true superstar to DC was over before it began. Now in panic mode, Grunfeld fell short of signing another big name in Al Horford and ended up paying Ian Mahinmi $64 million. The only problem with that is Mahinmi has only appeared in 1 game for the Wizards’ this season due to injury.
To make matters worse, Grunfeld’s plan Z acquisitions of Trey Burke, Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith have not panned out. The Wizards’ now sit at a record of 13-16 and this is thanks in large part to the mediocre off-season put together by Ernie Grunfeld.