If one word could describe the Washington Wizards 2017-18 season, “disappointing” seems to be the word heard from a majority of fans. After giving Otto Porter the max last off-season, it was clear that the front office put all its faith into the backcourt to carry this team to the Finals.
On paper, the starting lineup seemed fine going into the season with some minor adjustments to the bench given Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre Jr.’s expected development. Maybe this season would be the season that saves Ernie Grunfeld’s reputation as General Manager… but hope can only go so far.
The off-season – where the biggest move was the re-signing of Otto Porter – was then followed by an unfortunate 4-2 lost to the Toronto Raptors in a first round series almost a year later. Now the Wizards are in a sticky situation. Three max players with no progression in team success over the past years is a scary place for a franchise with championship contending expectations to be in. Any pivotal move in set for the team to make would require the moving of one of the key pieces to the team which could possibly do more harm than good depending on who is being brought in.
The only untouchables within the Wizards organization seem to be John Wall, Bradley Beal, and the notorious GM Ernie Grunfeld who got the Wizards currently stuck in playoff limbo. After all, why would owner Ted Leonsis offer him an extension last fall just to get rid of him the following season? It’s clear Grunfeld is his guy. What really stings this fanbase is the fact that this extension wasn’t publicized. As if there was something Leonsis was trying to hold back from the public given the mediocre trend Washington has fallen into.
“There’s a lot that we can use. I really don’t have to say certain positions. There are certain things that people who have been around the team understand what we could use to help our team. It’s not throwing shade to anybody that is on our team because everyone that is on our roster gave everything they have to make it work and fit with the team, but at the same time, when it’s not working and then you try and you try and you try and it keeps failing over and over, then you have to make certain adjustments and certain changes.”
Those are words from the captain of the sinking ship, John Wall. These comments alone should spark a flame under the seat of Ernie Grunfeld, but this isn’t the first time it’s felt that way.
There have been so many wasted draft picks over the 15 years he’s been in office (Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton) and money thrown away at barely mediocre players (Ian Mahimmi, Andrew Nicholson).
Yet through all this time, not even an Eastern Conference Finals appearance which leaves fans to think “what the hell is going on?”
It’s not an impossible mission to rehaul the roster, but it is very difficult to convince other teams to take on Ian Mahimmi making a little over $16 million a year without the Wizards losing an asset or draft pick.
Also, the game of basketball has evolved. When looking for a big man three point shooting and/or defensive versatility are key to making a team thrive in today’s game. In reference to the exit interviews, it’s clear some players on the team still aren’t accepting of their role on the team (1hr59min mark).
Hopefully Wall has had discussions with the front office regarding the team’s need to make moves. There’s a slight feeling that if they don’t make moves, Wall could be thinking about moving himself.