The 2017-18 Washington Wizards were expected to be one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams.
Unfortunately, they ended up as one of the NBA’s major disappointments. They finished with a 43-39 regular season record and barely made the playoffs as a number eight seed. The Wizards lost Game 6 of their first round playoff series to the Raptors, 102-92 on Friday night.
After Game 6 was over, John Wall gave his postgame remarks to the media. Wall acknowledged that while it is up to him and Bradley Beal to improve this offseason, “It’s up to our front office to add the pieces they think we need to make our team better and more complete.” You can watch the video above, via Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver’s Twitter account.
This isn’t the first time Wall has talked about the front office this season. In January, he mentioned a players-only meeting that didn’t go as planned since some players took criticism negatively. Wall alluded that the front office has to “figure things out” if bad losses continued at the time.
Ultimately, the Wizards’ front office is responsible for the construction of this season’s roster. If the Wizards performed to expectations when they would win 50 regular season games for the first time since 1979 and perhaps advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, then Basketball Operations President Ernie Grunfeld and his staff deserve credit.
But the Wizards failed to do those things. The frontcourt — especially the center position — is older and underperforming. All the players certainly must be held accountable for lackluster performances.
But the Wizards are also in “salary cap jail.” It will be very difficult to make major moves that make them better. Washington has the NBA’s fifth highest team payroll at $123,301,896 in the 2017-18 season and have over $124 million in committed salaries next season assuming Jason Smith and Jodie Meeks (who is suspended due to a drug violation) accept their player options. I don’t see why they wouldn’t.
But how did many of the reserve players on this Wizards team come here? It’s because they replaced other underperforming free agents or came to Washington in exchange for a draft pick through trades. Making a move like trading a first round draft pick for a veteran can work once, but it’s not a good strategy when it happens in consecutive seasons.
Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld signed off on the Wizards’ moves over the past 15 seasons. He must be held accountable for the team’s current state, because the future outlook doesn’t look rosy.