Ernie Grunfeld, the much maligned General Manager of the Washington Wizards, actually had a year he could hang his coat on. Although not entirely through the woods and not entirely earning the confidence of Wizards fans, Ernie got this year right.
The writing is on the wall this off-season that Grunfeld will return. After a couple years of some missteps and still a draft record that leaves a lot of revisionist history, Grunfeld pulled the tricks out of his hat this year and brought the Wizards to a better place than they had been in a long time.
Finally finding a way to dump the broken promise of Jan Vesely in a trade to acquire the ageless yet very aged Andre Miller. Miller was a spark off the bench, albeit a slow burning spark, that helped lead a strong bench unit for Washington. Grunfeld also added to that bench by signing Drew Gooden, first to two 10-day contracts and then for the rest of the season.
Last year, Grunfeld brought over Marcin Gortat and dumped Emeka Okafor, in a move that everyone seems to endorse over and over, but also signed Eric Maynor (who didn't even last a year with the team before being dealt in the trade to acquire Miller) and re-signed Garrett Temple and Martell Webster who have under performed this season. In that same offseason, Grunfeld signed surprise contributor Al Harrington. What followed after the acquisitions of Harrington and Gortat were waves of waiver wire, dumping assets left and right, slowing down his acquisitions and letting the talent develop.
In summation, for every good step Ernie takes, the next step seems to make the team fall down a well. And as much as he is derided for mistakes, he is also unfairly assigned the revisionist narrative of What Could Have Been. Wizards twitter was all shook up by repeatedly mentioning how Kawhi Leonard was picked nine spots after Jan Vesely. Yes, Kawhi Leonard was missed by the Wizards, but he was also missed by eight other teams.
If the narrative is Ernie Messes Up, then let him have that and own it. There's no need to crucify him for missing out on a player that seemingly everyone else missed out on. The San Antonio Spurs front office seems other wordly, just because they found the best use for Leonard, doesn't mean the Wizards FO doesn't have their own talent to develop.
Ernie's contract is up, he is due an extension and Wizards fans seem to begrudgingly accept this, just as they did with coach Randy Wittman. The Wizards are on top of their game and ascending, but with a spotty track record, Ted Leonsis should keep Ernie close, just in case he makes another drop down that well.Tags: Basketball, Ernie Grunfeld, NBA, Washington, Washington Wizards
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