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Grunfeld: "The Pollins are running this team"

As the Wizards continue to disassemble their roster while the franchise is in the process of being sold, some fans have vocally wondered who is calling the shots, and how the various personnel moves will affect the team's eventual price tag. These are complicated questions whose answers will one day emerge via anonymous quotes in stories written by better reporters than I. In the meantime, Ernie Grunfeld was asked publicly on Tuesday whether either the Pollin family or the Leonsis group had input into last week's blockbuster trade.

"Well, obviously the Pollins are running this team and I report to them directly," he said, via Truth About It. "But I think this is the direction that we need to go in at this time. You know, this group was together for a long time. Last year and this year were not up to par, as far as expectations from our standpoint, so it's time to make some changes. And this was the first step in trying to do that."

I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd be fascinated to hear Grunfeld's personnel-related conversations with the Pollin family. I'm equally sure Grunfeld will never be discussing those in front of cameras. If you've been reading the Wizards Insider over the past few weeks, you know that Grunfeld isn't in the habit of talking much about specific players, specific flaws, specific missteps or specific solutions. Still, he is the GM, so you can check out some of his thoughts above, via CSN Washington.

The best part, I suppose, came when WRC's Dan Hellie asked Grunfeld if it was tough for him personally to see the end of the Big Three, since he had wanted to win with that trio.

"Well, we have won with them," Grunfeld replied. "But everything has an end, and everything takes its course. The players tell us what to do by their performance and how well they play together and how much the team wins. It's really all about the wins and losses.

"We had a real nice run here for four years of making the playoffs. Last year, we had the injuries to Gilbert and Brendan, there's not much anybody can do about it. And this year was one of those years where we had high expectations. We made some trades in the offseason that we felt were gonna help us with Randy Foye and Mike Miller, and I think most people picked us to be one of the top four or five teams in the East and win between 45 and 50 games.

"And that just didn't happen for a variety of reasons. Obviously we had injuries early on to Antawn, Mike Miller, Randy Foye, and then the situation in the locker room didn't help us either, and now we don't have our best player for the remainder of the year. So a lot of things just happened that really were out of our hands, out of our control. But the bottom line is this: It's the NBA and you want to win and put the best possible team out there, and I just don't think this group was meshing very well. I thought we played selfish basketball, and we didn't win as much as we'd like to win."

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 17, 2010; 11:58 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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"Well, we have won with them," Grunfeld replied.

That sums it up in a nutshell for me. Ernie is delusional.

I've said it in the beginning and I will say it in any Wizards conversation/argument that I ever have over this subject. Quote, "The Wizards never, emphasis now, NEVER had a Big 3" end quote.

Delusional were the Wizards. For all the hype that spewed out of their mouths, they had maybe 2 1/2 good years. Sold you as much hype as the Redskins.

Posted by: BigTee13 | February 17, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

big tee, don't think ernie is delusional, we actually had a playoff team there for a couple of years...I think it was the first year we played cleveland in the playoffs when the refs stole that series from us by allowing leTravel to win the game at DC by what else...a travel. We were close to the conference finals that year...and straight downhill from there...

Posted by: IZZY3 | February 17, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

plus ernie was answering a direct question about why he failed with the big 3 he brought in...which can't be easy to do in front of all of the mics and cameras...ernies gm moves were actually a lot better than anyone else we had in 25 years... thought bringing in miller/foye was a nice move until miller got hurt and then...bam! Yes our big three had flaws but when they were clicking pre-Arenas injury it wasn't a bad trio.

Posted by: IZZY3 | February 17, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

blockbuster trades implies (blockbusters)
although a lot of guys on the block could bust this team

Posted by: aypub | February 17, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Wizards havent won squat. When you strive for excellence, a couple of hiccups and you are just good. When you strive to be good, a couple of hiccups and you suck. Fact of the matter is that the Wizards were so excited to be just in the playoffs after all those years of futility that they strived to be good, rather than excellent.

Posted by: WheresRickySanders | February 17, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Can someone tell me what is going on with the Washington teams. And what is this trade all about? What did we get for CB,Haywood & Deshaun? I think Ernie is the one to go.

Posted by: DCTONY | February 17, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

there was a time tho when the big three averaged over 70 points per game...Man those were fun times

Posted by: BurgwithaU | February 17, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse


Its simple...we gave up caron and his remaining contract for Howard who has just this year plus a team option.

Haywood whether you liked him or not (too much of an offensive liability for my taste) has 30 games to go and then he will be a free agent where somebody will over pay he was gone...

and just getting anyone to take stevenson was a miracle. So basically they are taking an option on howard to get rid of salary and create room to bid on free agents over the next couple of years...

Posted by: IZZY3 | February 17, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

that headline should read: "The Pollins and Grunfeld are running this team INTO THE GROUND". Caron and Brenden for nothing in return -- what a sucker move. Every commentary I've read, except for Wilbon (but who cares what he thinks - just make sure you do the opposite of what his opinion is), have said the Mavericks robbed us. Nice going, Ernie -- please turn in your resignation because you've completely sacked your own squad.

Posted by: BulletsFan1 | February 17, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"Wizards havent won squat. When you strive for excellence, a couple of hiccups and you are just good. When you strive to be good, a couple of hiccups and you suck."

Well said. This team has never come close to contending for anything under Grunfeld, even in its heyday. Grunfeld never realized that you need D, athleticism, speed, size, work ethic, mental toughness & muscle to win games in the playoffs. The Wiz were ok during the season when no one plays D, their jumpshots uncontested. But teams buckle down in the playoffs, and when you rely purely on finesse and the perimeter game, all of a sudden there is a hand in your face and your shooting percentage drops. Meanwhile, defensive lapses are magnified because the other team is playing full speed. Grunfeld seemed content with that, because the team was 'OK' to 'good' during the season. He never brought in imposing athletes, and the one he did, Arenas, he resigned to a franchise-sinking deal despite many surgeries. He was spellbound by jumpshooters with no other game (Pecherov, Young, James) and spent huge on players with questionable talent and interest elsewhere (Deshawn, Thomas and Arenas post-surgery), forcing him later to dump their contracts in bad trades and trade away a pick we could have used to get Blair to save cash. He also had faith in one-dimensional skinny big men (Blatche, Pech, Mcgee) instead of the solid, scary, defensive-minded, versatile, mentally tough guys you need in the playoffs. He brought in no starting-caliber pure point guard in all his years here, while making not a single draft pick that has netted us a solid starter, let alone an all-star. The current lousy team is the product of a GM who does not neither understands nor strives for greatness.

Posted by: SammyT1 | February 17, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Grunfeld is a joke and it is no wonder this team sucks. He fired EJ last year when the team was losing(because of injuries, I might add) and replaced him with a nonNBA coach. They tanked the season in hopes of getting a first pick in the draft and ended up with a 5th or 6th pick. So we the fans suffered through the entires season and became a laughingstock. Now he has practically given away any players worth something and got nothing in return. How do we know that Haywood was going to try to break the bank next season? He didn't get anything for him so he might as well kept him. And lets not forget those knuckleheads on the bench that can't compete night in and night out.(blatche,young,magee,mcquire) Doesn't appear anybody else wants them and Grunfeld was the one who picked them. They will lose tonight and the rest of the season just like last year. I am not negative and loved this team but, I am tired of going to games to watch them lose and will not purchase season tickets next year. Now we have Gilbert and his mess still hanging around our necks. Tell me, everyone keeps saying that we can get under the salary cap and get a couple of marquee free agents, but who in their right mind would want to come here??? Drew Gooden would rather be bought out and not play the rest of the season then to suit up here and the other three really don't want to be here either.

What a royal mess this team has become. It will be a while digging out from under this crap.

Posted by: ivyleague | February 17, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Ernie, just call it a salary know it and we obviously all know it.

To be honest though...winning a third of the games, you could make the case that things could improve a bit from here on out. Stranger things have happened.

Posted by: HOOLIE1 | February 17, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Just for prediction for tonight's starting lineup is...

Jamison (unless traded in the next few hours) Miller, Blatche, Foye and Young

Posted by: HOOLIE1 | February 17, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse


Look...the wiz suck and there is nothing that's going to change that in the short term...that said, haywood was a)overated,
b) would have cost too much to re-sign (forget breaking the bank) and c) and most importantly and this is the part that goes against your argument...if someone were really that stupic, they still have the option of re-signing him at the end of the year...he is a free agent at the end of the season no matter what

Posted by: IZZY3 | February 17, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Blatche, Howard,Foye, Miller and Jamison...
Butler was 4 for 16 for the Mavs and he played 2 guard...

Posted by: bobilly2 | February 17, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many folks ripping EG today were ripping him when he acquired Caron or Gilbert. I would've liked to have gotten a real PG from the start, given Flip's offense, but other than that I thought it'd work. How many folks criticizing him now thought this team would be this bad before the season started? I'm betting about zero.

Everyone on the planet thought this team would be good this season. The fact that Caron didn't adjust, Gilbert never grew up and everybody else got hurt, that's just a heap of lousy luck, not bad managing. Grow up, fellas. Sometimes all the cards just suck, but don't blame the dealer. EG did his job. He brought the talent, they just didn't perform.

Posted by: RIP-21 | February 17, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

As to:
Every commentary I've read, except for Wilbon (but who cares what he thinks - just make sure you do the opposite of what his opinion is), have said the Mavericks robbed us.

Posted by: BulletsFan1 | February 17, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

That hasn't been my experience at all. Look at ESPN (John Hollinger). He sees it kind of like we robbed them. This was step 1 in a multi-step process. We should wait to see who we sign with the money we save next year before judging it.

Posted by: Urnesto | February 17, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

EG wasn't a fool prior & he isn't a fool now.

We all thought this team was a playoff team this year going in.

Somehow the chemistry didn't work.
I mean I luv Caron but what the heck happen this year?

The team plays improved defense this year but their natural inclination to run & gun was hindered.

But it has been this way since the FatLady Sang.

Just need to get Ted in there & watch EG do his stuff.
Any1 can say I told you so.
But what did you say after they got rid of MJ & moved into this era?!

Posted by: Rocc00 | February 19, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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