The Wizards' season is cratering and Randy Wittman's seat has never been hotter. Whether he's relieved of his duties this week or this summer, a change is on the horizon. Who coaches the Wizards is also somewhat besidethe point; NBA success is largely about player talent. Just ask Luke Walton.
More important than the Wizards next coach is who is picking the Wizards next coach. I just don't see how Wizards fans can feel the remotest sense of hope with Ernie Grunfeld as General Manager.
The four longest tenured GM's in the NBA are Pat Riley, R.C Buford, Danny Ainge, and Grunfeld. Riley's Heat have won three titles with two other Finals appearances. Since Buford took the helm in San Antonio, the Spurs have won four titles and appeared in another Finals series. Ainge's Celtics have made the Finals twice, winning once. In stark contrast, Grunfeld's Wizards have won just three playoff series since he took control of the team in June of 2003.
During Grunfeld's tenure in DC, there have been 103 50-win seasons by NBA teams (including a few 50-win pace teams during the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season). The Wizards have zero of those seasons. Grunfeld's Wizards are one of just six franchises without a 50 win season during his tenure. That list will shrink to five this year barring an implosion by the Raptors. The others? Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Charlotte. Misery loves company.
During the Grunfeld era, the Wizards have a won less than 42 percent of their games, 25th best in the NBA -- ahead of just New York, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Minnesota.
Choose your measure; the Wizards have not performed under Grunfeld, regardless who has owned the team. Grunfeld may be a wonderful human being, but it is long past time for Ted Leonsis to turn the controls of the franchise over to someone else. Like many, I was surprised when Leonsis retained Grunfeld when he bought the team in 2010. But he values stability and continuity and plainly respected Grunfeld and wanted to give him a chance. Fair enough.
But the NBA is a results-oriented business. The incongruity between Grunfeld's longevity and the Wizards' futility is startling. The franchise once again stands at a crossroads. Tough decisions loom, particularly Bradley Beal's impending restricted free agency and how to allocate the team's significant salary cap space. With each mounting loss, it becomes more likely there is going to be a lottery pick to make; the Wizards must nail that pick. And of course, the team will likely make a coaching change they'll need to nail as well.
The parallel to his Capitals cannot be lost on Ted Leonsis. George McPhee was General Manager for 17 years; a year and a half after replacing him with Brian MacLellan, the Caps are having their best season in franchise history and sit atop the NHL standings. Grunfeld has had his fair chance, and then some. For the sake of the Wizards and their long-suffering fan base, it's time for a change.