Washington Wizards fans are used to bad news. For nearly two decades now, Wizards fandom has been synonymous with regular disappointment and heartbreak, not to mention the overflowing frustration over decisions made by management. Specifically, Ernie Grunfeld, who has been at the head of the Wizards since 2003.
Well, Washington fans can celebrate. The bad man is gone. Marc Stein of the New York Times reports Grunfeld has finally been let go from his position as President of Basketball Operations. Perhaps now, after these long years, the Wizards can begin their escape from the treadmill of mediocrity that has defined their franchise since Michael Jordan retired for the last time.
This move is many years too late, but better late than never. Grunfeld regularly sunk the Wizards with poor free-agent signings and even poorer cap management, making it extremely difficult to compete. He was a decent drafter, picking John Wall and Bradley Beal in recent years, but consistently failed to put a good team around any of his stars by whiffing on one free agent after another.
Whoever takes the job next will have a tall task in front of them; Beal, Tomas Satoransky, and Thomas O’Bryant are all young and talented, but the rest of the team isn’t. This isn’t even to mention John Wall’s albatross of a contract; he will be owed $37 million when his supermax extension kicks in next year, and he probably won’t be able to play until late in the year after tearing his Achilles while at home rehabbing from another injury. Plus, the contract only gets worse as it goes on, and he will be owed nearly $50 million by its final year.
The Wizards aren’t in a great spot. But now that they’re out from under the thumb of Grunfeld, the driving factor behind their disappointing decade and a half, the sun might finally be shining through the clouds for the Wizards.