An Open Letter to Ted Leonsis

I used to be able to email Ted Leonsis directly, but the enormous amount of invective he had to endure forced him to end that practice, which is sad. He always responded, albeit briefly, and it was nice to know that he had at least read my ideas.

So here's what I would write him, if I could:

Dear Mr. Leonsis,

Ernie Grunfeld's contract expires at the end of this season. You have said that you will evaluate all the relevant data and make a decision. While there is still half a season in front of us for EG's total body of work to reveal its worth, I would like to weigh in with you now. I have been on the fence about him for a while, but have seen enough to come to the conclusion that he needs to be let go as the Wizards GM, sooner rather than later.

During your tenure, EG has put together a playoff-caliber starting five but a very poor bench. While giving EG credit for assembling a competent starting five, a close look at why the bench is performing so poorly reveals EG's primary weakness as the general manager.

Why is the bench so disappointing? It's not his drafting -- EG has had successes and failures in the draft. The failures are, arguably, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton. Kevin Seraphin has also been disappointing so far. But John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Booker, Nick Young, Javale McGee, and Andray Blatche were genuine draft successes. EG has also been competent in accumulating assets -- he managed to turn Gilbert Arenas' worthless contract into, eventually, Nene, Trevor Ariza, and Gortat -- not too shabby. On the way he also managed to accumulate assets that turned, eventually, into Javaris Crittendon and Jordan Crawford.

Given the assets he accumulated, the Wizards should be a 50 win team now. And yet, the bench is underperforming. Why? Because when Andray Blatche and Jordan Crawford, who would fill gaping needs on the bench right now, left the team, the wizards got nothing in return. The Wizards *desperately* need a backup guard of Jordan Crawford's level of talent. Our injury-riddled front court *desperately* needs the minutes and production Andray Blatche, or some player of equivalent competence, would provide. The collective failure of Wizards management to harness the value of these two assets lies squarely at EG's feet.

Andray Blatche flatly refused to behave professionally while under EG's management. Jordan Crawford felt mistreated after his minutes were cut to zero after producing near all-star numbers just a month before.

Handling these two situations is the difference between having a productive bench contributing significantly to a 50 win team with homecourt advantage in the playoffs, and a team that has failed 6 times in a row to go above .500. Both of these situations involved dealing with players who were unhappy with how they were being treated -- situations that a competent manager could and should have been able to avoid. While you have said you will not consider relevant anything that happened before EG started working for you, it is nevertheless germane to point out that the way the Gilbert Arenas situation spiraled out of control is similar to how the Blatche and Crawford situations played out. It seems to me that Ernie Grundfeld's inability to manage these three somewhat similar crises reveals an underlying flaw in his management ability.

In summary, EG is at least average, among NBA gms, in *accumulating* assets, but does not have the requisite skill at *managing* them, particularly during crises (and the Crawford crisis was, arguably, entirely avoidable).

I am writing you now because waiting until the end of the season will not yield significantly new information about the assets EG has accumulated, but instead provide an opportunity for some other crisis to develop that would be better managed by a different GM. I urge you to consider making a change in the GM position now.

[Update: Uh, never mind! Carry on, EG!]

This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.

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