The Wizards streaked toward the finish line. Everyone was happy. Seraphin and Vesely flashed. Nene added a solid player who fit the Wizards model. Times were good. It was a foundation to build upon. Ernie Grunfeld triumphainty declared the rebuild over. It was now time to compete. Yesterday, we saw the efforts of Grunfeld's attempt to compete. I am critical of the trade, but what concerns me more is the process that led Grunfeld to making this mistake. Sadly, Grunfeld has repeated this process ad nauseum throughout his tenure.
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The Wizards seem to believe they were a couple pieces away from contending. This is why Ernie declared the rebuild over. This is why Ernie obtained two role players. The time had come. We only need a little push to get over the top. Look, we won six games in a row to close out the season! Ernie ignored that we were the 2nd worst team in the NBA last year by record. He seems to have been swayed by the end of the season run -- just like he was swayed by Blatche's late season run. This is problematic. Ernie seems to be swayed by small samples and hope.
This is not the only time Ernie believed a team with the second worst record in the NBA was a couple middling veterans away from competing. It is a systematic problem with Grunfeld. Until he can properly assess the talent level of his team he will make the wrong kind of move. If we were a .540 team with a hole at SF and Center, then maybe this trade makes sense. But we were the second worst team in the NBA last year. There are many reasons to think we still are not very talented. There are some reasons to buy into the improvement, but banking your franchise's immediate improvement on the last ten games of a season is poor judgment. The sample is too small and if you are wrong, then you set the team back years.
If Ernie recognized our roster for what it truly is, then he needed to get more value for the cap space. The team is not talented enough to trade for role players and expect they will make the difference. He needed to turn that cap space into a very good player. Our roster is not very good: we needed to take a chance at obtaining a Nene caliber player, even if we ended up striking out and getting nothing for the cap space. Grunfeld failed because he thought we were on the cusp and needed role players. He failed because he evaluated this team on his hopes and dreams, not on a likely outcome.