Ernie held this chat for Wiz planholders at the en d of March. Here is a transcript:
Haymarket: I think coach Jordan and the Wizards have been doing very well this year despite the injuries. However, over the last few years, it always seems that the Wizards always play down to their level of competition and lose to teams that are missing key players. Last nights loss is a prime example. What gives?
Ernie Gunfeld: We played well this season against some pretty good teams, and that's just the nature of the NBA, sometimes you face some teams and have a bad game. We have another game coming up against Seattle and we'll try and do better. We are disappointed about last night's loss, especially after beating the Pistons at home. But in this league, you have to put the disappointing losses behind and look to the next game.
Mike (Clarendon): This year you had three rookies receive significant playing time due to injuries. Can you talk about what each one brings to the table and what you think they need to work on in the off-season?
Ernie Gunfeld: The first rookie, Nick Young, has shown the ability to get his own shot, his shooting pct from three is among the best among rookies. He's very proficient on the offensive end, although he needs some polish. On the defensive end, like most rookies, he needs work. Dominic McGuire is also doing very well and we're expecting big things from him. Our first round pick from last year, Oleksiy Pecherov, unfortunately broke his ankle earlier in the seaason but he's back and a good defensive rebounder and shooter. We think he has the potential to be a rotation player.
Ryan (Springfield, VA): What Wizard has surprised you the most this season and why?
Ernie Gunfeld: I've been pleasantly surprised by several. Antawn Jamison has been a workhorse for us and as a two-time All-Star maybe it shouldn't be a surprise. Roger Mason has also been very solid for us, playing key minutes and really doing the job for us on the defensive end.
Jackson, Columbia: Ernie - Do you read Gilbert's blog on NBA.com and if so what do you think about it? Thanks
Ernie Gunfeld: I really don't read it. Every once in awhile I hear about it. It's very popular and widely read blog, and I think last year he won a Celebrity Blogger Award. But I don't read it every week.
Rick (Potomac): Ernie, Regarding Gilbert - Do you believe his recent frustration at not being cleared by the doctors will be used as a reason to not re-sign with the team? If the team is prepared to make him a max offer, what do you think are the possibilities that he signs that offer? Thanks
Ernie Gunfeld: Gilbert loves it here. He loves the fans and this city. I love that he wants to come back and play for us. He's worked very hard and he's frustrated. He's right around the corner and should be back for us soon. I love that he's so competitive that he wants to get back right now and help his teammates.
BK Arlington: As a General Manager, you have made some great decisions on which player to keep or let go. Everyone in town is wondering about GA. But I think the backbone to this team is AJ. What are our chances of signing him? Thanks for your time
Ernie Gunfeld: Our intention for the offseason is to retain both Giilbert and Antawn. We are a good team, we've beaten Boston twice, New Orleans twice and that's without Gilbert. With this current group, when we get healthy, we can beat anyone. I want to keep this core and see what we can do against the top opposition at full strength.
Fred (Burke): You have pulled off some great trades/signings over the last couple of years with Gil, Antawn and Caron. What are the first few characteristics that you look for when acquiring a player?
Ernie Gunfeld: Everybody has different characteristics so you can't pidgeon-hole anyone. I like competitive nature in a player, does he reallly want to win and hate losing. Also, you have physical factors, size, strength, athleticism, a particular skill. But I like guys with a real competitive nature who have character.
Allen (Arlington): Ernie: If Etan Thomas retires, would you use the money that frees up to resign present players or to get a new player ( I think you need a 15PPG SG for when the Big Three get injured )
Ernie Gunfeld: We're anticipating Etan to come back and play, so I think that's a bit premature. We expect him back with us.
Stevie (Fairfax): Ernie, First time long time, thanks for taking the time to host this chat. Which veteran player would you compare to Nick Young and what impact will he have for the Wizards over the next couple of years?
Ernie Gunfeld: It's hard to compare players to other players. Nick Young's strengths are his ability to score, good size for his position and he's athletic. He's got a diversified offensive game. He's showed improvement defensively. He's one of these players who likes to play, likes to compete and is a hard worker. I think he'll be a solid player for years to come.
Sam (Reston): Do you have Tennessee winning the NCAA Championship? Those Jayhawks look really good!
Ernie Gunfeld: For the record, of course! Actually, I have them going to the ...lemme check....lemme see my bracket. I got them reaching UNC, which would be a tough game. But if they get past UNC anything can happen. I'll be in front of the TV tomorrow night rooting them on.
G (Springfield: Who are your role models as GM and why?
Ernie Gunfeld: My mentor and role model as a younger GM was always Red Holzman. He was a consultant for us with the Knicks. I loved him as a coach, growing up in NY. I was fortunate to have worked with him. I learned many valuable lessons from him. He was always fair and honest and treated people with respect and that really made an impression on me in my earlier years in the front office.