I'm going to be away this weekend with limited computer access, so I probably won't be updating the site at all. Jake should be back, and if anything happens, definitely be sure to hit up the diaries.
I have just a couple quick things before I head out.
First, I want to remind everyone to keep posting their ideas for the Bullets Forever Top 20. That thread is not only for suggesting the 11-20 slots, but it's also to suggest what the order should be. Once that happens (I'll basically incorporate everyone's ideas fairly subjectively and make a secret list), I'll write a post asking anyone who's interested in writing any of the profiles to say so and post their e-mail in the comments section. As soon as I get some names, I'll e-mail you with the actual list and figure out who's writing what. Sound good?
Second, I want to clarify something. A lot of people have been saying that Ernie Grunfeld made a mistake when he signed Stevenson before he knew what to do with Juan Carlos Navarro. The argument is that if Stevenson wasn't getting other offers anyway, then what was the point of bidding against ourselves and closing off the option of keeping Navarro. I do not agree with this argument.
First of all, let's remember a couple of things. Ernie only learned that Navarro wanted to come over after he began negotiating with Stevenson's agent. This entry is from July 3, which is two days after the free agent period unofficially began. If Ernie suddenly stops spending much time with Stevenson and instead waited for Navarro to clarify his incredibly complicated situaton, then he risks either losing Stevenson or overpaying him. Stevenson, unlike Navarro and Andray Blatche, was an unrestricted free agent, so even though he wasn't getting many offers right away, the Wizards needed to get his situation figured out so they could ensure they'd get him for a reasonable pice. I don't think that just because there weren't offers there right away means they won't be there later in free agency--once the dominoes fly, you never know what will happen.
Here's the key point. As soon as another team throws their hat into the Stevenson sweepstakes, the Wizards' chances of retaining him cheaply lessens significantly. Bidding against another team does nothing except bring the price up. Stevenson now has far more leverage in the negotiation, making it easier for him to reject the 4 year/15 million dollar offer. Remember, it was the Stevenson camp that ultimately came down to that level, not Grunfeld. Considering how close the Wizards are to the luxury tax, even the smallest dollar amount matters, so they needed to do everything possible to ensure they sign Stevenson as cheaply as possible. Waiting doesn't solve that problem -- it only makes it worse.
Now, I'm willing to accept the argument that Ernie should have signed JCN over Stevenson (an argument I personally don't agree with, but at least I see it's logic), but I'm not willing to accept a "Ernie should have just waited and seen" argument. I was very excited initially for Navarro, but the more I read about him, the more I realized that, as good as he might be, his skills are redundant on this team. We already have enough undersized guards who don't play defense (Arenas, Daniels, Young), so why add another one when we can use him to improve one of our weaknesses? If there's reason to criticize Ernie, it's with the Navarro situation. If he doesn't get another big body in return, then I believe he mismanaged that asset. I'm worried that he asked for too much off the bat, and that scared many teams into giving a lot for his services. Time will tell if that's the case, but I'll be disappointed if Ernie only gets draft picks for Navarro.
But let's be clear. That criticism, in my opinion, shouldn't matriculate over to the Stevenson negotiations. They're two separate animals, and I still don't think Stevenson actually re-signing did anything to lower Navarro's trade value. It was clear right off the bat that Stevenson was Ernie's priority, and just because he actually signed didn't change that. It wasn't like teams said to themselves "Oh, now they have Stevenson, let's lower our offers." By going at Stevenson aggressively, Ernie set the tone for his plan to everyone. It's the same thing he did with Blatche. By making it clear that he was almost certainly going to match an offer for Blatche, Ernie's scared teams away. As mentioned earlier, I see no reason to criticize Ernie for aggressively negotiating with Stevenson, seeing as how Navarro literaly fell into Ernie's lap in the middle of the Stevenson situation.
Again, just my two cents, but I wanted to clarify my position. Essentially, I'm saying that Ernie had a plan without Navarro and didn't change it significantly just because Navarro wanted to come here. I'm okay with that, because that's what good GMs do. They have a plan and stick to it. I see no reason why Ernie should be criticized for sticking to his plan, especially considering his excellent track record here.