Well, now that I'm back in DC and get all the games for free I've been tuning out of late. I guess that's what happens when your team is 12-42, nine games back of even the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference. Am I a fake fan? No, just busy and unamused by terrible basketball, especially now that I watch my fair share of terrible high school basketball for a living.
Of late, the wheels amongst the Washington media have begun turning the blame towards Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld, who put together this motley crew of bricklayers. This week, the Washington Post ran a large story about just what happened with this team and it provided this interesting caveat that may just doom Grunfeld in the long run:
This is Grunfeld's team. Every player on the 15-man roster has been drafted, traded for, signed as a free agent or signed to a contract extension by Grunfeld.
He also said that he does not regret awarding Arenas such a huge contract last summer even though the three-time all-star had been limited to 13 games last season after undergoing a second knee surgery. At the time of the signing, Grunfeld thought Arenas would be ready to play the majority of this season. Arenas originally expected to return by December, but has continued to experience discomfort in the knee and has been limited to games of one-on-one and other non-contact work. No official timetable has been established for Arenas's return, but, according to a team source, the Wizards expect to have Arenas and Haywood back before the end of the season.
Well because I'm an opinionated blogger right now, I don't have to be as tame as the Post's beat writer. Concerning the Arenas knee injury, someone has been lied to here. Whether Arenas lied to Grunfeld about his recovery timetable last summer or Grunfeld lied to the media and therefore the fans about that timetable, I don't know. But there's no way a team should invest $111 million dollars over six years when at best they're going to get five years out of that player.
Gilbert hasn't even been cleared for practice yet ... I remember when they said he'd be back a month into the season, then it got moved back to January, then February, and now it's a maybe he will, maybe he won't play this season type of scenario.
Now I was as angry as the next person when I heard Grunfeld say he "would absolutely sign" Gilbert again knowing what he knows now. What else can he say? He's locked into Gilbert and if Gilbert doesn't return to full strength, this franchise is essentially crippled for years to come. For the good of the team (and Gil's confidence) Grunfeld must be quoted like that.
And in general, I just don't know how to view these Wizards. From those years of devotion the past couple seasons, I saw what this group is capable of. I'm convinced with a healthy Gilbert and Haywood, this is an Eastern Conference playoff team. But let's get real here, this group has peaked — which is exactly why I had a problem with signing both Gilbert and Antawn to big time deals this offseason. Even with everyone back, I think it's plain foolish to mention the Wizards in the same breath as the Celtics, Cavs, or the Magic. Why would you commit so much money to a group that hasn't gotten past the second round of the playoffs (and that was four years ago)?
At the same time, Gilbert was right early in the year when he mentioned David Robinson's Spurs that lucked into Tim Duncan. This whole disaster of a season could be fruitful if, say, the Wiz end up Blake Griffin when all of this is said and done. People around here also forget that just four or five years ago, being disappointed in the Wizards wasn't really possible since they almost always sucked. There was no letdown from being at the bottom consistently.
I'm just really confused about this whole situation. Should they fire Grunfeld, who helped bring this franchise from the scrap heap? Will they bring in a big name coach (I'm hearing rumors of a Flip Saunders appearance in the Capital)? Will they actually end up with a high enough pick to select Blake Griffin (and slowly trnasition him into taking Jamison's spot — i.e. the perfect scenario)? And will Gilbert actually play more NBA games than me this season? I just don't know. The only thing for certain is this year's team stinks like Fresh Kills, the infamous and really smelly Staten Island dump.
If you look closely enough, you can see DeShawn Stevenson's rotting corpse slowly waving his hand in front of his skull. I think he shot an old Pepsi can into the window of that trash compactor. I'll (hopefully) have more on the Wiz and whether Ernie should be fired later tonight or tomorrow.