July 29, 2014

Why Lance Stephenson’s New Contract is Bad News for Washington Wizards

On Wednesday, Lance Stephenson finalized a deal with the Charlotte Hornets to be their shooting guard for three years and $27.5 million. While that’s great for him and the Hornets, it’s bad news for the Washington Wizards.

This coming year marks the final year in which Bradley Beal will be under his rookie contract. In 2015, Washington will have the ability to exercise a club option worth $5.6 million. If all goes according to plan, you have to believe that will happen. In other words, Beal will become a free agent in 2016 and the Wizards will most certainly be looking to bring him back. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Add Depth, Experience With Kris Humphries Deal

On Tuesday afternoon, reports surfaced that the Washington Wizards added size, depth and experience to their front court by signing former Boston Celtics power forward Kris Humphries to a three year deal. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Make Smart Move Signing Paul Pierce

On Saturday, the Washington Wizards’ small forward position took several interesting turns, ending in the signing of one of the NBA’s biggest names. Surprising seemingly everyone in the NBA community, Ernie Grunfeld signed veteran forward Paul Pierce to a two-year deal. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Wisely Lock Up Marcin Gortat on Day One of Free Agency

On the morning of July 1, the opening day of the NBA free agency period, The Washington Post reported that the Washington Wizards had already reached out to their two most important free agents, Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza. By the time day one of free agency was over, Gortat had himself a new deal to remain in Washington. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards trade second round pick to Lakers for “cash considerations”

Folks, I promise that I was halfway through a real nice post regarding the Washington Wizards and their selection of Missouri point guard Jordan Clarkson, but then I promptly, and somewhat angrily, deleted it upon hearing the news that they sold Clarkson to the Los Angeles Lakers. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Announce 2014 Summer League Schedule

In a press release issued on Thursday afternoon, the Washington Wizards announced their schedule for the NBA Summer League this coming July. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Rightfully Reward Randy Wittman With Three-Year Contract Extension

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

For the Washington Wizards this offseason, that is the philosophy they should stick to when maneuvering through the laundry list of decisions that face them this summer. They have several high-profile people in need of new contracts, and on Tuesday evening they checked one of them off the list. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards’ Offseason Questions: Who’s The General Manager?

As the 2014 offseason for the Washington Wizards is now upon us, there are some pressing issues that need to be discussed within the organization. Over the course of this week, we’ll take a look at those issues. First up, the Wizards need to decide who will be their general manager next year.

Ernie Grunfeld joined the Wizards back in 2003 after spending four seasons with the Bucks and eight years with the Knicks. Over those 12 total years, he amassed a 574-378 record. He reached the NBA Finals twice with the Knicks and took the Bucks to the playoffs in three of his four seasons.

Despite all of the prior success, Grunfeld’s 11 seasons in Washington have been full of ups and downs. The Wizards have gone 357-529 with him as their GM with five postseason appearances. In the early days, things were great – Washington went to the playoffs four times in the first five years – but many mistakes were sprinkled in along the way.

In the NBA Draft, mistakes have been made. Oleksiy Pecherov (2006) and Jan Vesely (2011) turned out be royal busts as first-round draft picks. In fact, neither of the players drafted in the 2006 draft are with Washington now. In 2009, Washington didn’t even have a selection in the first round, should have been fifth, thanks to a trade that brought them Mike Miller and Randy Foye.

In all three drafts (2006, 2009, 2011), Washington missed out on drafting possibly their point guard for the future. In 2006, Rajon Rondo was taken following the Wizards’ selection. In 2009, Ricky Rubio was selected with the Wizards’ pick and Stephen Curry would have also been available.

In 2011, Washington passed on Kemba Walker to take Vesely. To be fair, John Wall was drafted in 2010, so they weren’t really looking for a point guard in 2011. Of the forwards taken in the draft, the position the Wizards drafted, Kawhi Leonard (Spurs) and Kenneth Faried (Nuggets) were selected after the Wizards made their pick. Both have been solid players for their teams.

Three different drafts, three different missed opportunities for Washington. Just take a moment now to imagine how different the basketball scene in D.C. would have been with either Rondo, Rubio or Curry as the team’s point guard. Between the three of them, there are five NBA All-Star Game appearances.

The missed opportunities in the draft have certainly set the team back, but the misfires in the Grunfeld administration don’t end there. There have also been contract decisions that were rather, well, puzzling.

At the age of 32, Antawn Jamison was awarded a contract extension for four-years and $50 million. Jamison was a solid player for the Wizards and important part of those four-straight playoff appearances, but no 32-year old in the NBA is worth 50 million.

Two years later, Andray Blatche was then inked to a contract extension for five-years and $35 million. After his pay day, Blatche didn’t even play in 82 more games for the Wizards over the final couple years that he was with the organization.

Possibly the most troubling contract, however, is the six-years and $111 million max-deal that was awarded to Gilbert Arenas in 2008. Due to injuries, Arenas played in just 13 games the year before. After receiving his deal, he appeared in 55 games for the Wizards over the next three years before splitting with the team to go to Orlando.

After the mistakes, misfires and series of unfortunate events, it seems like a no-brainer that Grunfeld be shown the door. However, it’s not that simple. Is it possible that he’s learned from his mistakes? After all, he is the man responsible for the 2013-2014 playoff team.

While he did draft Vesely and missed out on All-Star point guards, he did draft John Wall and Bradley Beal. After their playoff run, both have been heralded as a feared back-court in the NBA. He’s traded for the likes of Nene, Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza, who all three played key roles on this year’s team. He put together a bench that consisted of Andre Miller, Al Harrington, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker and Drew Gooden.

When you look past the dark days, the last several years, with the exception of the Vesely fiasco, have been fairly clean for Grunfeld. He’s made some solid decisions and has put together a good team in Washington that will be competitive for years to come. It’s a team that, unlike 2-3 years ago, free agents would want to come and play on because it’s a team that will win.

Is it enough to erase his past? For a majority of his tenure in Washington, things weren’t as high as they are now. After making the playoffs four-consecutive years, the Wizards then slid into a very depressing state where they finished last in the division three times. Lately, however, things certainly seem to be on the up and up.

Grunfeld’s time as general manager of the Wizards hasn’t been smooth, but it has yielded success. After making the playoffs just once between 1989 and 2004, Washington has been to the postseason in five of the past 11 years. That’s not great, but it’s without question an improvement over what it was prior to Grunfeld’s arrival.

I guess the real question here isn’t who the GM of the Wizards is, rather it’s has Ernie Grunfeld learned from his mistakes? While he’s certainly made his fair share of errors, there’s no denying the credit he’s owed for putting together the current, and successful, Washington Wizards.

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Brian Skinnell is a sports writer born and raised in the Washington, D.C.-metro area. He’s had work published on Yahoo Sports and Rant Sports, and has made several radio show appearances across the country to discuss his works. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

Looking Back On The 2013-2014 Washington Wizards: The Dawning of a New Age in D.C.

Before the season, if you would have walked up to any Washington Wizards’ fan and told them that this team would get to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals before it was all over, you would have been met with many wide eyes and disbelieving shaking heads. With the recent history of the franchise, it would be hard to blame them. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 6 Recap: Wizards’ Playoff Run Ends in 93-80 Loss to Pacers

All the fire and energy that powered the Washington Wizards through Game 5 seemed lost Thursday night as the Wiz Kids fell 93-80 to the Indiana Pacers in an elimination game at home to end their playoff run.

Marcin Gortat came nowhere close to his career high playoff points this time around, but he did lead the Wizards’ scoring efforts with 19 points. Bradley Beal and Nene added 16 and 15, respectively, and John Wall rounded out the double-digits club with a mere 12 points as Washington’s 39.2 percent field goal percentage proved too low to pose a threat.

Indiana jumped to an early – yet surmountable – lead early in the first quarter, but Lance Stephenson and David West helped the Pacers to a 29-23 lead in the first 12 minutes of play.

The Pacers continued to tack onto their lead in the second quarter, largely with the help of nine free baskets off poorly timed Washington fouls.

The Wizards regained just a bit of momentum in the third quarter as the Gortat-Beal duo breathed life back into the offense. The two combined for the Wizards’ first eight points of the quarter in under three minutes before Nene added a free throw and Wall sank a two.

But, West continued to pester Washington with back-to-back baskets before George Hill’s three gave Indiana a 67-55 lead with 4:26 remaining in the third. Washington trimmed the deficit to 10 on free throws before Trevor Ariza and Drew Gooden added a pair of baskets to help the Wizards climb back within eight points.

For a brief moment in time, Washington actually regained the lead in the fourth by way of two Gortat free throws, a pair of baskets by Wall, and two long jumpers – including a lead-changing three-pointer – from Beal.

With the next shot, however, West regained the lead for the Pacers. From there, Indiana continued to outrun the Wizards – so much so that Washington endured a stretch of more than five minutes without a basket in the fourth. West and Stephenson took advantage of the slow-to-awaken offense to help the Pacers to their 93-80 win.

“We’re definitely disappointed,” Beal said after the game. “This loss hurts more than anything just knowing that it all just came to an end just like that. But at the same time, nobody really thought we would be this far. For us to actually make it here and for us to believe in ourselves and make Indiana earn it, we should be proud of ourselves and there’s nothing we should hang our head about.”

“Nobody expected us to be here,” Wall said. “I just want to thank God for giving me this opportunity to be here and compete as a team. Like [Beal] said, I think we got a lot of effort from a lot of teams. I think a lot of teams respect us now. We definitely made Indiana earn it. Give them a lot of credit for coming out and just giving us a lot of experience to know what it takes to win and compete, and close out games and get to the next level. We just want to say thanks to everybody that supported us, and our family, friends, the organization and definitely our fans.”

The loss makes further evident the Wizards’ playoff struggles at home. The end of their run caps off a 1-4 record at the Verizon Center – compared with a 5-1 record on the road this postseason.

“We have to look on the flip side of it and the things that we did on the road is a huge step for this team,” said Wizards head coach Randy Wittman. “There is no question you have to take care of home and that is the next step. I mean we win 44 games and we win more games on the road than we do at home. You even take a little bit of care at home and you are at 50 you are at 52 and that is the next step we got to take. Continue to be what we were on the road this year. Take care of home and continue to grow.”

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