In the nearly 13 years that Ernie Grunfeld has been in the front office of the Washington Wizards organization, there have been some things that have been abundantly clear. This team has been painfully mediocre, they have struggled to consistently bring excitement to the fan base and Grunfeld has been willing to make patch work acquisitions to suggest that the Wizards have somehow found the missing piece.
This year was no different. The Markieff Morris trade is as interesting as it's ironic because in the end the trade itself, maybe the one move that ultimately cost Grunfeld his job.
Consider this, the trade itself on the surface doesn't appear to be that bad of a trade, especially considering Markieff Morris is averaging 11.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, on 47% shooting and 31% from 3. Not bad numbers, especially if you include that he has played stellar defense to go along with those numbers.
The problem with the trade is that two things are expected to happen, the Wizards will likely lose their first round pick and with their loss last night to the Sacramento Kings, are likely to not make the playoffs. The former was very much expected as that was considered the price that was willing to be paid to get a player like Markieff Morris, but we were not expecting the latter to happen after the trade was made. This is what Grunfeld explained about the reasoning for making the trade:
"We feel like we needed a jolt at this time," said Grunfeld, during halftime vs. the Utah Jazz at Verizon Center. "We needed another player in the frontcourt, someone with some athleticism. A versatile player and when this situation came up we had to take advantage of it. He's a proven NBA player."
The reasoning that he gives here makes perfect sense and it seems like Markieff Morris fits that bill, but the issue with the move is it ignores the other bad decisions that Grunfeld has made to construct this team that has presumably done them in this season.
I have no doubt in my mind that the reason why Grunfeld made this trade is because once again he thought he found the missing piece that would salvage this team's season, but just like so many other moves he has made, he fails to see that one or two moves cannot undo some of the mistakes he made prior to those moves.
Let's go back in time, when we were at the beginning of this re-build. We were sold a bill of goods that players like Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young would be key players to work well around our young franchise star, John Wall.
When all else failed, from off-season acquisitions to poor play from poor drafting and developing of players, Grunfeld had nothing else left to do then to pull-off trades and one of those trades brought us Nene to DC. Nene for all that can be said, has been a positive influence on the Wizards when he has been healthy and engaged, but once again that move was a move to fix previous mistakes that were made.
And going back a couple of seasons ago when it was discovered that Emeka Okafor was expected to be out for most of the season (which actually turned out he has not played since), because of the lack of quality young talented front court players, Ernie Grunfeld had to trade the team's 2014 1st round draft pick to get Marcin Gortat. Again nothing wrong with the move itself, but it's everything that lead up to the move that's the issue and made it necessary.
Ladies and Gentlemen, on the surface, when you view these moves independently, they are all decent moves. Each player acquired in these deals have contributed greatly to the team, but great teams, well ran franchises simply do not make moves like this. Every move that I have mentioned has been a reaction to some type of failure that has occurred where expectations were not met. Who should receive the blame for that?
That does not mean that we should expect every move to pan out but this is a professional sports franchise and Ernie Grunfeld is being paid millions of dollars to make this a successful team. With the Nene trade, players that Grunfeld drafted failed to develop into contributors like they were expected to.
With the Gortat trade, draft picks and off season acquistions did not address the lack of depth in the front court including having to rely heavily on the injury-proned Nene. With the Morris trade, failure to acquire a quality stretch 4 or at least quality power forward forced the team's hand to get a player who was very much needed to fill a major void. Again, who fault is it that these situations came up prior to these trades?
How many chances does a GM/President of Basketball Operations need? I have an answer. No more chances are needed. It's time to move on and it's time to recognize that making a trade just to shore up your mistakes doesn't always work and when it doesn't it just puts you in a worse situation than you were already in.