It was the first Wizards press conference at Verizon Center since the lockout, and general manager Ernie Grunfeld stayed true to form. Grunfeld didn’t offer up a lot of breaking news, and repeated his mantra that he’s looking for improvement in his young players.
“From the young players who were with us last year, we want to see improvement in them,” Grunfeld said.
“We want to incorporate the new young players into what we’re trying to do, and we want to improve as the season goes along. It’s going to be a process. We knew that when we started this whole thing.”
“But we want to improvement in the young players, and we want to see them play with a high energy level and with a competitive nature on a nightly basis.”
One topic that has received a lot of attention, is the amnesty provision in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement [CBA] which still has yet to be ratified.
The amnesty clause allows a team to wipe one player’s contract off the books, to keep it from counting against the salary cap or the luxury tax. The player would still receive his money, but it would free up teams to sign other players.
Rumors were circulating that the Wizards would use the amnesty provision on Rashard Lewis, 31, who earns somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million per season, but Grunfeld put those rumors to rest.
“I think every situation is a little bit different. The amnesty rule they have in place this year is different than the amnesty rule that they had in the past. This amnesty you can have a window every year, an opportunity to amnesty somebody,” Grunfeld said.
“We don’t know what that window is yet, but it takes that player’s salary off the tax and the cap.
“Our situation is probably going to be - we’re going to study the whole thing, but in all likelihood, we won’t amnesty anybody this year,” Grunfeld said.
That should put this topic to rest. It never made any sense to amnesty Lewis, since the new CBA requires teams to spend up to 85 percent of the salary cap in the first year of the deal. With Lewis’ contract off the books, the Wizards would have fallen well below the salary cap floor.
Grunfeld said he isn’t looking to spend a lot in this free agent market anyway; there will be better options next season.
“We’re just going through the process of contacting everybody, letting the players that we have interest in know that we have interest in them, and I’m sure a lot of other teams are doing the same thing,” Grunfeld said.
Grunfeld did identify the need for a back up point guard and some veteran leadership, giving rise to some speculation that the team might look at bringing Gilbert Arenas back, who could be amnestied out of Orlando.
(Be careful of people having a little fun speculating in the Twitter universe. Enough said.)
“Obviously John is going to get the bulk of the minutes there [at point guard].
“We drafted a guard who we think can play some point guard, Shelvin Mack. Jordan Crawford has played some point guard, obviously, we’ll probably need someone for camp, and if that player shows that he’s someone that we might want to keep for the long haul, we’ll do that,” Grunfeld said.