Some are going to say this topic is worded too strongly, others are going to say the whole idea is just ludicrous. 3 years from now when this team has missed the playoffs for a third straight year fans will finally be able to look back and see how quickly Ernie Grunfeld went from Front Office genius to the man who ran a once promising young team into the ground.
The problem is its not 100% Grunfeld's fault. The problems run much deeper than just him. These problems run all the way back to Jordan/Kwame, to big Wes, to the curse of les bullez. All of the people who let this team become the perrenial loser the Washington Wizards/Bullets were throughout the 80s/90s need to share in the blame for this disaster.
Grunfeld put together a team that was young, exciting, and had the potential to grow into a real contender. Grunfeld's #1 priority should have been taking this team to the next level, instead his goal was to keep it medium, keep going after that low seed playoff bid and take as few risks as possible. If Grunfeld had swung for the fences would we be better off now? Could we possibly be any worse?? Either way, if we would have went down we would have at least went down swinging.
As soon as the trading deadline passed and Jamison was still on the roster we all should have foreseen this coming. How could a GM that is known for wheeling and dealing let an asset like a 16 mill expiring contract slip by without capitalizing?? Pau Gasol was traded for Kwame Brown's expiring and 2x 1st round picks... you dont think Memphis would have rather taken Jamison?? Imagine a move that not only got us the big man we needed to pair up with Gil but also the point forward to play scottie (mike miller) to Gil's MJ. Rather than making the type of moves that got EG to where he was today he was handcuffed. Handcuffed by the failures of past regimes and the fear of returning to the cellar.
How can you justify giving a solely offensive player that could barely be considered a top 10 guard, never the less a top 10 player, a maximum deal (it WAS a max deal, we will get more into that later). We gave Gil a king's ransom and you think that would be enough. But no if we want to have the honor of overpaying him we also have to overpay his buddy. Another defensive liability that would be LUCKY to get 50% of his contract if he hit the open market again this year. On top of overpaying for Gil, overpaying for AJ, Ernie got strong armed into keeping a lame duck coach, Eddie Jordan, around for another
year 16 games.
Unfortunately they dont seem to have learned anything from these past mistakes either. We have already thrown away one season and we plan on throwing away the first half of next season trying to reacclimate Gil into the rotation and (hopefully) learning the system of a new head coach. If this team was truly dedicated to winning they would have brought Avery Johnson in the second EJ was shown the door. Give him 3/4 of a season to whip this team into shape and install a whole new defensive philosophy. By the time Gil is ready to return next year he would have no choice but to fall in line. Even if we do bring in a defensive minded coach in the off season he is going to have a much tougher challenge getting this team to buy in. When our younger players (ie nick young, javaris) are getting their ass beat in training camp and they look over and see the 100 million dollar man (gil) not buying in do you think they are going to?? No chance.
So what do we do now?? Do we dare stand up against Gilbert and tell him he isnt playing this Saturday (or any other point for the rest of the year)?? Do we (once again) give into his demands and risk going from 25% in the lottery to 8% (3 wins brings us from first to fifth)? Even if we do keep him on the bench and then beat the odds and win the lottery our "prize" is going to be a power forward who I expect to measure in at 6'8" or below. All these people who think Blake Griffin is some cant miss prospect are kidding themselves. Dont get me wrong I think he is a quality player but he is no Tim Duncan or Dwight Howard. Does anyone think a stronger David Lee is the difference right now between us and the Celtics, Cavs, or Magic?? How do we justify paying Jamison 12-13.5-15 million a year and being our 2nd/3rd man off the bench.
My hope (and if I havent lost you yet this is where I probably do) is that we dont win the lottery. We get the 2nd, maybe 3rd, pick and some major progress is made in regards to the contract buyout of a certain spanish heart-throb. With Gil running the point of this team we will never get any further than his hot/cold streaks brings us. With Rubio at the 1 we can quickly turn the core of the team around from Gil, Caron, AJ to Gil, Rubio, McGee. I honestly believe (with the right system) McGee/Rubio could turn into the next Amare/Nash. Rubio is such a perfect fit because not just any PG could fit into this puzzle. We need a PG with Rubio's size/length so he can match up on the 2 and let Gil stick with guarding the 1. Until we bring in a player that can get other players involved this team is going to live and die on Gil's jumpshot. As wet as it may be we all know it can only get us so far.
Did you know??
Going on the assumption that Gilbert will play in 4 games this year he will earn 1.6 million dollars per game over the 07/08 and 08/09 seasons. What we will pay Gilbert for 2 games would be nearly enough to pay Roger Mason's salary for the entire year.