WARNING: The following post may contain homerism, and incredibly bold statements (Who likes to keep their cards close to the chest anyways?!)
This is in response to the article in question.
18. Ernie Grunfeld, Washington Wizards (last year: 18)
STYLE: Company man.
THE GOOD: He's done an excellent job carrying out owner Ted Leonsis' plan of accumulating draft picks, having now gained seven first-round picks in the last two years. Pulled off a brilliant use of asset management by taking on a draft pick, then dealing for two more for the price of renting Kirk Hinrich for four months.
THE BAD: Gave a premature contract extension to Andray Blatche, handing him a five-year deal two years before he was scheduled to be a free agent. Seems a bit too committed to the Blatche/Nick Young/JaVale McGee core in general. In the past, he had a tendency to overpay free agents, though that has faded since Leonsis took over.
BOTTOM LINE: Grunfeld is versatile, capable of executing many plans and undoing things that don't work. Now that he has a young superstar, he must prove he can build a team for the long haul, and not just one that tops out as decent.
I'm not dissing this, and i'm certainly not outraged at the placement, but I just thought I'd express my feelings on the subject because I know some of us don't believe in resigning grunfeld and want him out of town.
I, however, am not in this group. I think alot of people undersell ernie and the management team. I definitely think alot of people look at big superstar moves by guys like ainge or riley, and tell themselves that that's what managing is all about.
To me, Ernie is someone who's work isn't going to be fully appreciated until a couple of years down the line, like finely aged wine.
Before I really get into this, I want to say that too many of our fans have blamed grunfeld for what transpired from 2007-2010. Giving a max contract to an injured player, overvaluing antawn jamison, and of course gungate. There had to be pressure there to win now due to Abe Pollin's condition, and grunfeld did not have alot of options during those years. He can't just tell pollin on his death bed that it wasn't going to work and they needed to rebuild, now can he? If you're working a six figure job and your boss tells you to do something, are you really going to risk going behind his back? I don't blame ernie, the only tragedy that happened was pollin leaving this world and not getting a chance to see a promising rebuild in action.
I'm going to start at Andray Blatche's contract extension and last years draft.
Andray Blatche signs a 5-year contract extension worth $35mil
Was this really a horrible idea? Blatche was our only low post scorer post jamison, and he's a pretty damn good one when he sets his mind to it. In general when he's playing well the team is playing well. That can be an Achilles heal, but when there's no other real option, it's not that bad of a predicament. Especially when his contract is only averaging around 7 million a year (For someone who just put up a 17/8 /2 year, no less).
Hate blatche all you want, but he IS an integral part in flip saunders offense, a big part of the success of the team falls onto his shoulders, and there aren't a lot of players available who can replicate his game.
John Wall is self-explanatory, the word is still out on kevin and Hamady (They were drafted out of need however, and there weren't many actual good bigs left in that draft), but trevor booker was an absolute steal.
Booker may not have a lock-down position on the court, but he is a true energy guy on a team that was lacking energy guys. He played 200% above expectations, posting a 9% offensive rebound rate (Howard is 11.5), a 58% True Shooting percentage, Drew fouls on 17% of his shots, and held opponents to an 11.7 PER when he was playing the 3.
Next year he will be a player without a position, but to me, it's better that way. I want him to be unpredictable, to throw teams off-balance.
Many people wanted arenas out solely because of gungate and the fear of him corrupting wall, but did anyone realize how terrible gil was actually playing? (a trend that continued in orlando). He wasn't only a cancer in the locker room, but a cancer on the court. Gil was taking nearly 16 shots a game and converting on only 39% of them, meanwhile Rashard Lewis comes in, establishing a veteran presence and increased his rebounding and shooting percentage from the suck year he was having in orlando.
Everybody hates a bad contract, but this was actually a good trade for the wrong reasons.
Kirk had done his job, he showed John Wall the ways on the nba point guard, and it was time for wall to find his own way. In return we absolutely fleece the hawks for a solid veteran in mo evans and one of the better playmakers of the 2010 draft class in crawford.
Together crawford and evans were a part of the best line-up that flip put on the court this season. A line-up that had a 62.5 percent win rate.
Evans did his job as an nba nomad, and it will be sad to see him go with the influx of forwards coming in. Crawford was the gem, a new breed of playmaking combo guards that come off the bench and wreak havoc on opposing defenses. A guard that possesses the ability to play the 1 and the 2 and put points on the board (Oh, and he was also CLUTCH AS HELL)
Yes i know his shot selection was terrible, and his man defense wasn't anything to be lauded about. He's got character though, and had it rougher than most rookies after receiving no minutes in atlanta then going to a completely different team system and then getting the green light by flip saunders.
I want to see what crawford can do off the bench with nick young in the fold, I for one think he'll succeed expectations.
The Washington Wizards draft Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack
And here we sit idle at our keyboards after an agonizing nba lockout.
The first thing that most of us assumed was "OMFG ANOTHER EUROPEAN BEANPOLE, AND A LOGJAM AT SF? REALLY, WOW. TYPICAL ERNIE"
Everyone needs to have patience. We all know rashard lewis isn't a longterm solution, and a couple of years from now it just might be a rotation of vesely/singleton/booker.
And right now i'm going to make an incredulous prediction, especially after hating on him by copious amounts before the draft.
JAN VESELY IS GOING TO BE THE NEXT BIG EUROPEAN PLAYER, LIKE DIRK BIG.
If he develops nba range and has a smooth stroke, this guy won't just be the european blake griffin, he'll also be the european kevin durant. Size, Athleticism, Motor, IQ. He's the perfect toy that everybody wanted for christmas
Seriously, if he pans out, what player in the league is going to be able to guard him? even if you can manage to stay in front of him he'll just run plays from flip, moving from strong to weak and back to strong, tiring out even the most experienced defenders in the league.
His length on defense is going to be incredible too, with his wingspan he shouldn't even have to try to contest shots.
Singleton and Mack were just icing on the cake in this draft. Taking the trait that translates well the most in the nba (Defense) and obtaining a partner for jordan crawford who knows how to play under pressure in big game situations.
We have to perfect amount of clutch, character, and fight on our team now.
So what does it all mean?
Ernie Grunfeld was the maestro behind all of it. I know we don't have alot of 3 point specialists. Nick young is off contract, and lewis isn't long term, but i'm sure we will see some more wizardry (pun intended) from ernie next season, and for all of that, I give Mr.Grunfeld some heavily deserved props. I'm a loyal fan who pours over blogs like these, picking up every scrap of information I can, reading into analytics, and arguing with naysayers and trolls every day, and I don't feel that ernie is a "Bottom-Half General Manager"
Anyways, that's just the consensus of my thoughts. That was a great article mike (even if I disagreed with it), looking forward to more during a woeful, woeful off-season.