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Washington Wizards Year in review: June

Randy Wittman is retained, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza are acquired and Bradley Beal is picked in the 2012 NBA Draft. Recapping a busy June.


Our month-by-month look back at the Wizards' 2012 through the words of the Bullets Forever community continues with June. A lot happened in June. Let's get right to it.




Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Well, eventually. First:

ESPN's Ric Bucher is the latest to report that the Wizards continue to forge ahead with Wittman as the head coach, in large part due to the fact that he has another year left on his two-year contract extended before the 2011-12 season.

But did Wittman even know what was happening? Reportedly, no, and that seemed weird:

But if there's any shred of truth to the idea that even Wittman himself doesn't really know what's going on, it makes you wonder what the Wizards are doing here. Originally, my thought was that the Wizards felt it would be awkward to interview other candidates with Wittman under contract, even though the Indiana Pacers did so while Frank Vogel still held the interim tag. But if they're also not telling Wittman himself what their plan is, then it almost seems like they simply have no urgency to resolve the situation.

Finally, it got done:

But now, it looks like the Wizards are taking steps to lock Wittman's status down. Wittman is expected to sign a new two-year contract to be the Wizards' coach, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

And now, Wittman has a new challenge:

This will require Wittman to continue to adjust his coaching style and learn from his mistakes of the past. It's one thing to bombard the team with smoking analogies in Game 25 of a shortened season. It's another to do it when the squad is 10 games under .500 at the 55-game mark and just got blown out on the fourth game in five nights. Wittman will need to know when to let off in order to maintain the support of his star players.

Ernie Grunfeld explains the move:

"We were very comfortable with Randy. There's a lot of familiarity. The players played very hard for him. The players improved. The players have confidence in him. He's familiar with them and he improved the players. It was a process. We always do our interviews at the end of the season. It took a little time to think about where we are and where we're trying to go, and we're very confident with the job Randy did with our players. Most of our players spoke very highly of him and enjoyed to play for him."

There were reports that the Wizards kept Wittman because he came cheap. A response by DCrez:

so really Ted doesnt expect us to be GOOD to the point it would be worth hiring another Coach, he's keeping randy because it's the least expensive option.



Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Battle lines are drawn.

The case for Bradley Beal (by Ron Carlos Jenies):

He's a perfect complement to Wall with his shooting ability on Wall's drive and kicks and he can run the floor in transition and make plays with his athleticism and IQ. The only SG we have on the team now that demands decent minutes is Crawford, but as we all know he is far from dependable. Drafting Beal would fill that need without adding to the log-jam we currently have at the 3 and 4 (SF - Lewis, Martin, Evans, C. Singleton, Vesely PF - Blatche, Booker, Vesely, Seraphin depending on what the FO does this off season)

The case for Michael Kidd-GIlchrist (by mindstaterev):

The Kentucky Wildcats won the National Championship and consensus #1 pick and college Player of the Year Anthony Davis was a big reason why. The team was stacked with talent, no doubt, but it's consensus LEADER was an 18 year old freshman who also happens to be the youngest available player in the draft class--Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The case for Thomas Robinson, by Thomas Robinson:

This is not the first time Robinson said he wanted to play for the Wizards, but it was one of the most emphatic. When asked to describe his feelings on being able to work out for the franchise he grew up following, he called it a "dream come true." So, yeah, he's being pretty transparent about this whole thing.

The case for Harrison Barnes (by averagebro):

How about we look at on court production. Harrison Barnes was hardly a slouch as a defender. His stats aren't as gaudy in some areas because of how UNC had to use him (due to injury to other wings and team style of play). But come on, he scores off the bounce. He scores at the line. He scores from 3pt land. He's CLEARLY just as dedicated (if not more) a player as MKG. He's also a "glue guy". Seriously, some seem to forget that Barnes came to UNC as a highly touted 1-and-done candidate. Yet he had no problem putting his game and ambitions on the backburner for the good of the team.

The case for Andre Drummond (by dcraised82):

In a draft where there might only be one all star, who will undoubtedly be the first pick, you have to pick the guy with the next most all star potential immediately after. This guy is it in my opinion. What say you?



Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

With a week to go to the draft, the Wizards make an incredibly divisive trade, acquiring Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza from the Hornets.

The Washington Wizards have made a pretty big move, acquiring Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza from the New Orleans Hornets for Rashard Lewis' contract and the No. 46 pick, according to Draft Express' Jonathan Givony.

Goodbye, cap space:

This means that the Wizards will not likely be a big free-agent player this summer, even if Blatche is released via the Amnesty clause. The salary cap will be set at $58 million, so that should eliminate all high-level and even mid-level free-agent prospects. The most the Wizards could do is sign someone for potentially half of the value of a mid-level exception.


That means that, barring bounce-back seasons from Ariza and/or Okafor that cause them to opt out of their current deals, the Wizards probably won't be a free-agent player in 2013 either. Essentially, they've decided that Nene, Ariza and Okafor are their free-agent acquisitions for the next two years, with Nene also being one for the two years after that. This also means that the Wizards will not be able to execute unbalanced trades with the salary cap, which could be even more valuable that using the space to sign free agents in the coming years, with many teams likely to shed long deals to get under the luxury tax before harsher penalties kick in after the 2012-13 season.

But Ernie didn't seem to want free agents anyway:

"You have to get one to agree to be able to get someone to sign with you, and you never know what the price is going to be to get someone. If you look at the free-agent list, you notice that, if see who is available in the free-agent market this year, it's not one of the strongest years in recent memory."

Let's just say the community was divided:

My take:

It's impossible to separate the salary-cap problems with the on-court success of the team, so I won't try to do so. Essentially, I don't think Okafor and Ariza are good enough as players and leaders to justify the salary commitments, the way they address the Wizards' shortcoming and the roster dynamics they have created over the next two years.

Rook passionately disagrees with the deal:

It smacks of classic Ernie Grunfeld - Make a move for the sake of making a move. Make the move way too early. Settle for less, and give up more. Classic "win now", sacrifice the future, Ernie Grunfeld. He did it in 2009 when he traded away the 5th pick in the draft for Mike Miller and Randy Foye - while at the same time helping to make Minnesota relevant again when they used that pick to select Ricky Rubio. Now he's giving New Orleans the opportunity to quickly rebuild around Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon. With their new cap flexibility (formerly the Wizards cap flexibility), the Hornets could have up to $30 Million to spend on next year's Free Agents. Deron Williams? Dwight Howard?

So does Sean:

Also, Ted just threw his 10 point plan in the trash

The artist formerly known as ledellforlife.

by Sean Fagan on Jun 20, 2012 2:42 PM EDT actions 4 recs

But some were in favor:

This kind of stuff is amazing.

We trade a useless player for two useful ones, both of whom are known for defense. They're not on long-term contracts. They can help our young'uns learn.

Some people will never be happy. So much of the grumbling around here is "The Wiz have a bunch of unserious clowns on their roster. No professionalism". Now that the clowns are gone and professionals have replaced them - ones that can play defense, remember - there's more complaining.

Ernie just can't win.

by YellaFella on Jun 20, 2012 3:15 PM EDT up actions 6 recs

Oh, and there are things a lot worse than two years of mediocrity.

Not that that's a guarantee... Its a possibility. It's also a possibility that we surprise a lot of people these next two years. Either way, it beats the hell out of 20-something wins and another year debating lottery picks to death.

by jones-y on Jun 20, 2012 5:12 PM EDT up actions 6 recs

The 'sky is falling' reaction is kind of ridiculous

Okafor and Ariza make us more competitive now. Some act like getting the 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs is a BAD thing next season - I honestly don't understand this idea. We had the 2nd worst record in the LEAGUE last year! What, do people expect us - or any team - to be able to make a leap from god-awful-team to top-of-the-Eastern-conference from one year to the next?

It really blows that we're cap-stranded for the next 2 years. But personally, it never made a lot of sense to shell out $10 million a year on Batum, or other fringe FAs. We're nowhere near ready to compete for a championship, and with free agent contracts, we could only add a guy for a maximum of 4 before we have to re-up. It makes more sense to have that max-player FA window from 2014/2015 to 2018/2019, but I understand why and how it is hard for many to have patience like that

We're still years away from our young guys developing - Wall, Seraphin, Vesely, Crawford, Singleton, Beal/MKG, etc. - it makes more sense to add that instant starter in free agency in 2014/2015, when the foundational pieces are more solidly in place, the picture is a bit clearer, and we're more ready to contend.

by Max Zamphirescu on Jun 20, 2012 6:54 PM EDT actions 21 recs


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist goes off the board at No. 2, which means...



Beal reacts:

We kind of had a clue a little bit. My agent and I had talked about how it would be 2, 3 or 4. Two, I was nervous, but then when there was applause, I was like, 'OK, it was a little accident.' But then 3, my name was called, and all those doubts went away. I'm glad I was a Wizards.

Most people are happy. Unselds sums up the reaction:

A new day is dawning in Washington. I looked out my window and saw puffy clouds and sunshine. The Chesapeake Bay was glorious. And the Washington Wizards got an exciting young player that should really blossam [sic.] with the right situation for our long-struggling franchise.

But there was also...

The Washington Wizards have selected Tomas Satoransky with the 32nd pick in the 2012 NBA draft.

And reaction there was much more negative. Via mindstaterev:

If you had told me that, when the Thunder were drafting at 28, Perry Jones, Quincy Miller, Jae Crowder, Will Barton and Doron Lamb would all still be available...I would have been ecstatic. All those guys bring something quantifiable to this team-whether all-star upside or knock down shooting or toughness and work ethic.

Then if you told me we ended up with someone who wouldn't play for us the next year or two, who doesn't start in a lower European league, who doesn't have any elite skills or athletic traits, who plays the same position as the two youngins we're building our team around, and who probably would have been available with the pick we traded away to New Orleans, well I would have said, in Seinfeld-esque fashion, "Grunfeld!"

And also from NotGivinUpOnDray:

So its been 3 days. I've tried to let it set in, do my research, listen to the experts and hear everyone's arguments...but the sting of drafting Tomas Satoransky simply won't go away. Of all of Ernie's questionable moves, this is by far the worst. Not the worst impact, (I realize it's a 31st pick), but the worst move.