Recapping Ernie Grunfeld's pre-camp press conference

Some quick notes on today's press conference:

  • Obviously, you now know about the jersey color change.
  • Ernie also gave an update on Josh Howard's injury progress, confirming he won't be back by the start of the season.  "Maybe in November, maybe in December, around that timeframe, but there's no exact date you can put on it," he said. Grunfeld also said Howard has only been cleared to run on the treadmill, and not on the floor.
  • Meanwhile, Andray Blatche should be ready by training camp, though he might be limited in the first week or two.  Same for Yi Jianlian, who had an achilles injury during the World Championships.
  • Ernie said several times how this was the "beginning of a new era." He added this from the jump: "In the offseason, when Ted and his group took over and I first met with him, we had a great meeting and he said his philosophy was to try to build through the draft with young players and try to get a group to form a foundation with so we can be playoff contenders for many years to come and hopefully one day we can win a championship"  He also said the rebuild started at the trade deadline.
  • On Midnight Madness: "It's about getting the players started, it's about being the first team out there." ... "We're anxious.  Our young players are anxious to get started, and we're anxious to get started."
  • Ernie hinted at John Wall's availability, especially on the road, being a bit more limited than usual because of all the requests he gets.  While he said Wall has handled those requests "with grace," he also said "he can't go in too many different directions; his number one focus has to be on preparing for every individual game."  The organization is working out a plan now, and while he said everyone will have an opportunity to talk to him, "it will be a limited type of situation.
  • What are the goals for the team? Ernie made clear they're rebuilding, but added "we want to be competitive.  We want to play hard, aggressive basketball, and we want to improve as the season goes along.  Player development for us is going to be extremely important, not only in training camp, but throughout the whole season."
  • As far as win predictions?  "If the players stick together, continue to work hard and play with passion and intensity, that's what we're going to be looking for. We'll let the chips fall where they may."
  • Ernie said he thinks Wall and Gilbert Arenas should complement each other well, though he stressed it will take time.  "Gilbert is an outstanding scorer; John is an outstanding defender.  I think they'll complement each other very well, but it'll be a process."
  • Ernie also said "you can never have enough playmakers," noting the success of the Walt Frazier-Earl Monroe pairing with the Knicks and, oddly, the Gary Payton-Sam Cassell pairing during his final year in Milwaukee.  I was unaware that the latter was such a great fit.
  • Found it interesting that, when I asked Ernie how he felt the players acquired via trade this summer fit with the overall philosophy, he left Yi out. He said the team wanted to get "tougher from a defensive standpoint and a physical standpoint," name-dropped Kirk Hinrich, Josh Howard, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin.  No Yi.
  • Someone tried asking Ernie if Arenas has "changed" this summer.  Ernie interpreted this as a question of his basketball approach only.  Clearly, he's taking David Stern's advice seriously. "Gilbert has alway been a basketball junkie ... he's doing the same thing he's done in the past.  He's shooting in the gym, he's coming back at night, he likes to compete.  He's been in the weight room, he's been in outstanding shape and he's looking forward to the season."
  • Ernie said that this was one of the most anticipated years he's ever had in his career because he's curious to see how it comes together.
  • When I asked him about Yi's FIBA performance, Ernie said he was impressed that Yi did all that without good guards to set him up for easy baskets off penetration. 
  • On the D-League, Ernie said that he's "a big believer in the D-League, but you have to judge every situation for what it is."  He said the reason the team did not use it much is because they had to keep players up to have enough bodies for practice, due to all the injuries.
  • Finally, I asked Ernie how he felt about the team's offseason plan of not going for a top free agent now that he's seen how it's all played out. "I don't know if 'vindicated' is the right word, but having said that, there were about 6-7 teams that had a lot of cap room, and there was one team that had success. Everybody else was just so-so with that cap room.  We didn't know if one of those main players wanted to be part of a rebuilding situation, and as it turns out, they didn't. So we feel good that our strategy was to try to get younger, to try to get more draft picks and try to be opportunistic in the opportunities that were there. ... We feel good about the execution of what our ownership wanted to do."
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