The news broke on Monday night as the NBA’s two worst teams – the Wizards and the Bobcats – faced each other at Verizon Center. The Wizards would go on to blow the Bobcats out of the gym with a 28-point win. But all the talk was surrounding the news that president and general manager Ernie Grunfeld had been granted an extension, and would be back for at least one more season.
Grunfeld, sans owner Ted Leonsis, addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon at Verizon Center.
Here is the gist of what Grunfeld had to say:
Regarding his new deal: “I’m excited about it. It’s been a process for us. Obviously we’ve been very transparent about what we’re trying to do. We had a a game plan and we wanted to rebuild through the draft with younger players, put ourselves in a good position from a salary cap standpoint moving forward and I think we’ve really made some good progress. I’m excited about being a part of it moving forward.”
Following Leonsis rebuilding plan: “ I have a history in this league, I’ve been doing this job, a job like this for 22 years, and I think we did some good things. I thought we had a game plan, obviously I was part of it when Ted took over the team he had a plan and we went out and we executed it together and the plan is not complete yet.”
“We still have a lot of work ahead of us and a lot of work to do, but I think we can really see some progress. Our young players are developing, we’ve become much more competitive, we’ve added some veteran players that have really helped us along the way, and I think we have a bright future.”
His greatest regret during his tenure with the team: “We didn’t win a championship. Everybody always wants to be the best they can possibly be and move forward. You can’t really go back and compare what happened. It’s a whole cast of different characters, the rules were different. The whole situation was different. All we’re doing is moving forward and looking to the future and I think the future looks good for us.”
Future plans: “We already acquired a free agent, the way we look at it in Nene. Last summer he was the most sought-after free agent in the marketplace. We were able to get him via trade instead of having to play the free agent game and going out there not knowing for sure if you were going to get a player of his caliber.
“We played the free agent game, we just did it a little bit different. We are paying somebody a very nice salary. The games he played for us we’re 5-4 and of the four losses, three of them were by three points or less against some very god teams. Obviously, he makes a difference out there. He knows how to play the game. He’s a very intelligent player. He’s savvy. He’s one of those players that commands respect from the opposition as well as his teammates.”
Randy Wittman’s future: “I think Randy’s done a very nice job with this team. The players have responded to him. The players are playing very hard for him and once the season is over, I’ll sit with Ted, and we’ll evaluate the situation just like we do every year.”
Andray Blatche’s future: “Players are always forgiven if they come back and perform well, that remains to be seen. It’s going to be a process that we’ll monitor during the summer. Obviously, he’s a very talented player as he’s shown in the past. He got hurt early in the year, and he was just never able to get into the kind of game shape that we needed him to be in to help contribute this year.”
“Starting a new rebuilding process: “There’s a lot of circumstances that go with certain things. We had to pivot and change course in midstream of where we were. We made the playoffs four years in a row and we went to the second round one time, and two of those playoff rounds, we didn’t have our top scorer playing for us, and one of them we didn’t have our top scorer and Caron Butler playing for us. I think we had some good success, and then we had some injuries that really hurt us. The following year, Brendan Haywood and Gilbert [Arenas] went down.”
“We made some trades and we had a very good ballclub, and then we an incident in the locker room, and we decided to go in a different direction then and to get new players and to rebuild. There was also an ownership change, and when Ted came in he said that what he wanted to do was build through the draft just like he did with the Capitals and obviously that was our plan, and get young players and develop with them and build with them, get a team that could be competitive for many years to come. And that was our plan, and that’s what we’re in the process of carrying out.”