Here we go. After a putrid 5-11 start and listless play all around the team, it appears it’s finally time to blow things up and start anew after eight years of attempting to build toward contention.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Wizards are making John Wall and Bradley Beal available for trade along with everyone else on the team. “While Washington hasn’t shopped its All-Star backcourt, it is rapidly becoming apparent to the organization that it needs to start considering overtures for them,” Woj writes.
So, while they’re listening to offers on their All-Star backcourt, they’re not quite making calls themselves on them yet. Still, this is a big step forward for a franchise that has been hesitant to make big steps of any kind in the past.
The team has no direction right now. They’ve got a core that’s fairly solid, but nothing of value surrounding them. Yet, somehow, they owe this roster $131 million this season. Next season it gets worse — they’ll spend $116.4 million next season on six players including $32 million on John Wall on a deal that will eventually pay him upwards of $42 million. They’ve got to choose a way to go because what they’re doing right now isn’t working.
The Wizards can’t improve — here’s why
Wall, Beal and Porter are all collectively owed $86 million next season. Throw in Ian Mahinmi’s $16 million salary and they’re at $98 million between just four players — only two of which have been considered franchise cornerstones in Washington.
Strictly speaking on the court, the core’s skillsets mesh. Wall is a ball dominant guard who sets guys up, Beal is not only a solid shooter but a very good scorer and Otto Porter is the best shooter on the team from every area of the floor. You have three, solid foundational pieces. But you can’t build if every other piece you get either weak and leaky and on its last legs.
That’s why the reset is coming. The Wizards issue isn’t that their guys aren’t good anymore — it’s that they had to overpay to keep their guys here. And that has deadlocked them into a space where they can’t really improve on the fringes where they need to.
They shouldn’t be here
The Wizards buried themselves years ago. People will blame the players and rightfully so. They’re getting punched in the mouth nightly and not resisting. The effort isn’t there.
But this situations falls directly in the lap of ownership. It falls directly in the lap of the team’s management. Ernie Grunfeld, for the second time has ended an era. It didn’t start yesterday. It didn’t start last month. The ship has been leaky for 15 years and the team’s middling shipwright’s patchwork won’t hold up anymore. Grunfeld is the problem.
It started in the 2011 draft when they botched not one, but all three of their top 35 picks. You know the names: Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, Shelvin Mack. They amounted to nothing in Washington. Vesely and Singleton are both out of the league. Mack is playing well in Memphis, but he didn’t do it in D.C. and Grunfeld doesn’t get credit for that.
The team put all of its eggs in waiting for Kevin Durant to come save the franchise and he declined. Then, they just missed on Al Horford. And then, when the lights finally turned on and the party was over, they decided to go home with two expensive backup centers, a guard who couldn’t shoot and a forward with every post move in the book but none of the finishes that come with them.
Management decided to pass on Paul George. Management made calls, but decided to pass on Kawhi Leonard. Management again made calls, but decided to pass on Jimmy Butler. And now we’re here, where management is taking calls regarding their own stars.
Management has botched every single opportunity it has had to improve this team. It failed to pick up any significant pieces along the way, and it covered up its failures by spending the NBA’s most valuable currency in draft picks to pay to clean up its dirty work.
The John Wall era will go down as another failure and it’ll be eerily similar to the failure that was the Gilbert Arenas era. What do both of them have in common? Ernie Grunfeld. You tell me who the real problem is here.