WASHINGTON -- Ernie Grunfeld gave his season-ending address at the Verizon Center today. His first line included the phrase "a season of two halves," and away we went from there. Here are some notable quotes.
First, some important facts to get out of the way:
- Kevin Seraphin probably won't play for France this year, Grunfeld said. Seraphin hasn't made a final decision, but he's leaning against playing so he can spend more time in D.C. and work with the team.
- The plan is for Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Bradley Beal to play in Summer League, along with the team's draft picks (however many they actually make) and potentially Tomas Satoransky. Grunfeld said a decision on whether Satoransky will come over next year has not been made.
- I did confirm that the Wizards do not have Martell Webster's Bird Rights. The Wizards could try to sign him with a first-year salary that's seven percent more than his current salary (it's reported as $1.6 million, but I was told it's a little more than that), or they must use part of the mid-level exception to retain him.
Some other notable lines, in chronological order:
On the "two halves" of the season: "You could see what kind of potential the team has when we had all our pieces together. But I think that some things happened, where even during the rough start, we started establishing that we could be a good defensive team. We lost a lot of close games at the very beginning of the season, a lot of games went down to the wire. But our guys were very competitive, they played hard every night. We had a lot of new players on the team and we had to learn how to win those close games. Obviously, as we got a little bit healthier, we showed we could be fairly competitive on a nightly basis and began to win some games."
On how he weighed the "two halves": "We had a lot of new pieces on the team this year. We had six players that we added to the rotation by the end of the year. I think the chemistry as the season progressed got a lot better. I think the players enjoyed playing with one another and the familiarity got better. But it's a process. It takes time. Obviously, when you don't have your main pieces, it's very hard to evaluate."
What happened with the 4-28 start? "[Injuries are] part of the game. You have to be able to deal with that. We had to deal with it, obviously, and I don't think our players ever complained about that. But when you don't have all your pieces together, you're asking different players to play different roles. I think that was the case in the first part of the season. Players we brought in to do different things had to take on different roles because we didn't have our pieces, and the players were still trying to learn the system and learn what each of them could do. So it's an awkward situation at times for some of the players, but I think our players were very professional about it.
On building around defense: "I think it's been shown that the teams that have longer-term success and have success in the playoffs are good defensive teams. They have to have good scoring also, but the foundation starts with the defense. We're a top-10 defensive team this year defensively, and that's something we want to maintain and build on."
Early summer plans? "I think it's important to have continuity and let the players play over an extended period of time. We haven't had our pieces together for more than 40 games. Bradley is still a rookie and he's going to be better next year, more familiar with what we're trying to do. But we're always looking for ways to improve, obviously. We're just finishing up our player meetings, [and] Randy met with our players last week. Then, we'll sit down and evaluate everything we have and we're going to look to add some pieces and see what areas we want to improve at."
On the players suggesting that the team doesn't need another young player: "We'll talk internally and we'll see what opportunities are there. We can get an old player anytime, but if the older player doesn't help you on the court, that's not the kind of situation we want to get into. If the right player is available to us that's a veteran player that we think can help us, of course that's something we're going to look at, if the right opportunity presents itself from that standpoint."
On the struggles of Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker: "Obviously, we added six new players, and those players got playing time. Consequently, those young players didn't play as much as they did the year before, because we have better players at this time at those positions, and those players are more experienced. But this is a big summer for all of those players, and they have to improve. I think when they did get their opportunities, they had some productive moments, but it's hard to play on a consistent level if you don't have the consistent minutes."
What's wrong with Vesely? How can he get his confidence back? "He needs to be out on the court. He needs to be playing. That's the way to build up your confidence, to have success in game-type situations. He's going to play a lot of basketball this summer. He's going to play with us in Summer League. He's going to play for the Czech national team, where he's going to get a lot of minutes. At the end of last season, when he did get consistent minutes, he put up some solid numbers. Unfortunately, he didn't get that this year and he needs to do better. He needs to improve and he needs to find a way to get that confidence back. "
Is the D-League off the table with Vesely and others? "No. It's never been off the table. With the kind of injuries we had this year, we needed the bodies up here for practices or for game-type situations. A lot of times, players develop just as much in a practice-type situation, though at the end of the year, we didn't have as many practices. But we needed healthy bodies for this team also."
On monitoring Nene's minutes next year: "That's something that we'll talk about. That's a good point. We did monitor his minutes early in the season this year and even late in the season he never really played the high, high minutes. But that's a good point. That's something we'll talk about with our medical staff."
On how rule changes affect his evaluation of players: "With the new rule, you want to get more skilled players. Players that can handle the ball, players that can shoot the ball, players that can do a lot of different things aside just being a physical presence in there. So you do value different skills than in the past."
Are you looking for a specific position? "The position that will be addressed more depends on who is available. If we find that there's a really good player available to use at a certain position, we'll look at that position more. Coming back, looking at the players we have under contract this year, we have just about every position filled. Now, of course, you want to get better players off the bench for depth, but it all depends on what players are available to us."
The players have mentioned a Stretch 4 being a need - are you looking for specific skills? "I remember last year when we had these same conversations, everyone said we didn't have any outside shooting ... [you guys] were right; that time we didn't. But Webster and Ariza helped that, and Beal of course also, so we had three people fill that need. If there's another player out there that can stretch the defense out there and help us out in that way, of course it's something we'll look at. But those guys don't come around every day."