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Wizards' demolition is complete


The night before the card game. (By Ross D. Franklin - AP)


The first D.C. sports team that really captured my imagination after the creation of this blog in the fall of 2006 was the goofy, wacky and yet somehow successful Wizards. That fall, the Nats were still following The Plan, the Redskins were missing the playoffs, the Caps were more than a year away, and the Wizards were fun and interesting and on their way to the Eastern Conference's best record..

Well, that team no longer exists. Regardless of whether Antawn Jamison stays or goes, the team has been completely disemboweled. It is no longer recognizable in any way. There's nothing there for the rest of this season at least; nothing to root for, nothing to call your friends about. Whose jersey on this team would you currently buy? There isn't any acceptable answer to that question that doesn't involve irony.

As part of the purging process, I thought I'd offer a few numerical observations on the wasteland we now confront:

1 Number of starters from Game 3 of the 2008 playoffs who will suit up for the Wizards next week. That was the Soulja Boy game, the bizarre and unforgettable rout of the Cavaliers at Verizon Center. The starters were Arenas, Stevenson, Butler, Jamison and Haywood.

2 Number of players who scored in that game who will suit up for the Wizards next week. Ten different players hit the scoreboard on that night: In addition to the five starters, the names included Antonio Daniels, Darius Songaila, Roger Mason Jr., Oleksiy Pecherov and Andray Blatche. Yes, Andray Blatche is now one of the team's strongest remaining links to the past.

3 Blockbuster deals with Dallas the Wizards have completed over the past decade. This one involved seven players and two former All-Stars. In 2004, there was a four-player deal, in which Antawn Jamison (a future All-Star) was acquired for former all-star Jerry Stackhouse, future all-star Devin Harris and Christian Laettner. And in 2001 there was the eight-player deal involving Laettner, Courtney Alexander, Loy Vaught, Hubert Davis, Etan Thomas, Juwan Howard, Calvin Booth and Obinna Ekezie, the largest trade in franchise history.

All in all, that's 19 players, six former or future All-Stars, two guys named J. Howard, and two guys named Christian Laettner.

5 Wizards current local rank, among the five main D.C. pro sports team, in potential fan-base optimism. Yes, that puts them below the Nats. Yes, I'm serious. If you're a Nats fan, you have Stephen Strasburg, a budding superstar at third base, guys like Adam Dunn and Tony Plush who are at least fun to root for, a bunch of intriguing young arms and the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft. The Wizards have nothing comparable.

26 Sentences into the Wizards press release on the trade before Ernie Grunfeld offered a kind word for the departed core of his franchise. I know a lot of people fault Butler for his play this year, and DeShawn Stevenson for his salary, but I think there are a lot of people you blame for this mess before the departed trio of players. I say they deserved better.

3 Sentences into the press release before Ernie Gruneld said this trade would bring "a new look and energy to the roster." As a reminder, the Wizards acquired one guy who's missed 21 games with injuries and ailments, one guy who's beginning his 11th NBA stint, and two other guys who have combined to average 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds a game this season.

11 Number of times the Wizards/Bullets have either failed to move up or actually moved down in the draft order, out of their previous 12 trips to the lottery.

Look, those of you who are willing to watch these season go down the drain for a chance at John Wall, you're dreaming. You've forgotten your history. this team does about as well in the draft lottery as D.C. does in blizzards.

In 2009, the Wizards finished with the NBA's second-worst record. The lottery ended with the worst possible scenario, and the Wizards got the fifth pick. In 2004, the Wizards finished with the NBA's third-worst record. They got bumped down a slot by the lottery, which meant they picked fifth, since the expansion Bobcats had the fourth pick. In 1995, the Bullets finished with the NBA's second-worst record. They lost two slots in the lottery and picked fourth. In 1993, the Bullets finished with the NBA's third-worst record. The lottery ended with the worst possible scenario, and the Wizards got the sixth pick.

In 2003, they didn't move from 10th. In 2002, they didn't move from 11th. In 2000, they dropped from sixth to seventh and lost the pick to Chicago by virtue of not landing a top-three pick. In 1999, the lottery bumped the Wizards down from sixth to seventh. In 1994, the Bullets didn't move from fifth. In 1992, the lottery moved the Bullets down from fifth to sixth. In 1991, the Bullets didn't move from eighth.

Only in 2001--when the Wizards had the third-worst record in the League--did the Wizards hit the lottery. That led to Kwame Brown.

So please, don't even mention John Wall's name. It's not worth the heartbreak.

100 Percent of the Wizards' highlights in the Comcast SportsNet promo for Wednesday's broadcast featuring Andray Blatche. Three clips, all starring Blatche. Yeah.

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 13, 2010; 9:55 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Local Poll Week XII: Richmond's Ranked

Comments

The lottery is rigged for the best possible media attention. How else do you think the Wizards alsways get screwed in the lottery, but when MJ was drafting, we somehow got the 1st pick.

Posted by: ssktigers | February 13, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Great post Dan. There is ALWAYS hope. :-)

Posted by: tramellcanady | February 13, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Demolition is not yet complete. Jamison and his $28M needs to be moved. The last thing a 60 loss team needs is a 33 year old forward.

What has happened here is an unmitigated disaster, but one that can be placed at the feet of Abe Pollin and Ernie Grunfeld.

All of this effort to keep together a team whose core had never won anything of note in the league.

For all of Abe's pronouncements about winning a championship, I can't count one NBA observer that thought this team as constituted was even in position to win its own division in 2009-2010.

Demolition and admitting the mistake is the first step.

Thank God that is 75% over. Hopefully, by the end of the week we will be at 100%.

If the team can find a taker for Andray Blatche as well as Jamison, I wouldn't mind seeing him depart either.

Posted by: leopard09 | February 13, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

steinberg. you're an idiot

Posted by: slim4 | February 13, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

The Wiz have sucked for some time now, and it's clear that they will continue to suck for a good, long time to come. Nobody to build around, underachieving young players from previous lousy drafts, nobody interesting or exciting to watch on the court, and no height or athleticism. Other than that, they'll be a lot of fun to watch for the next three or four seasons--maybe longer. Just watch, they'll get an ineffectual player at #1 (think Nick Young)this year, and no free agents worth bothering with will come anywhere near this team for years to come.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | February 13, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Yep it has officially begun. Its a sad, sad day, when you think about all of the hopes we had for this team at the beginning of the year. Also, when you think about the memories this Gilbert-era Wizards gave us. They were the young and fun group, "ready to rule" as the old slogan would say. That team is officially gone! All I have to say is thanks for the best stretch of Washington basketball in 3 decades!!

Posted by: SkinsWizStangs | February 13, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding! Until the vastly overrated Arenas is gone will we improve!

And oh yeah, that totally incompetent ERNIE BUMFELD!!! FIRE HIM NOW SO HE CAN CATCH ON WITH ANOTHER TEAM.. OF PIZZA DELIVERY DRIVERS!!

Posted by: iubiquity | February 14, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mssrs. Bukhantz and Chenier,

I wanted to reach out to you in what must be an amazingly painful time in your lives. For the next several years you will have to pretend to be intrigued by 82 miserable games a year. My deepest sympathies. Can I drop off a casserole?

Posted by: thinker11 | February 14, 2010 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Dan,

I don't think theres any way to put it other than that I'm sad. I'm sad for myself, I'm sad for D.C. fans, I'm sad that this is what its come to for a team in D.C. to have optimistic news. This is a loss don't let anyone say otherwise. Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood were guts through and through. This just sucks. I know its for the future, but tonight is just rough.

Posted by: JDP_ | February 14, 2010 3:46 AM | Report abuse

ricky rubio.

Posted by: kmcass | February 14, 2010 4:09 AM | Report abuse

Dan,
You used an entire column just to say the Wizards stink..and have for some time. You could go back another 15-20 years if you wanted to. At the root of their long term failure..sad to say was Mr. Polin. As owner, he was responsible for the people who made all the poor decisions over the years..one of the worst being MJ.
Remember, 3 of the 5 starters in Detroit a few years back (WHEN THEY WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP) WERE FORMER WIZARDS). that alone, demonstrates just how bad decisions
have ruined this team.
We know that they have drafted many players who went bust..and had the opportunity to draft players such as Karl Malone..but passed.
One could write a book on how not to succeed in the NBA..using the Wiz as a model.
Dan...do some actual work instead of just
giving us useless information. Do some speculating on what things might help this team..not talk about all the failures which most of us are already aware of.

Posted by: blazerguy234 | February 14, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Dan

"5. Wizards current local rank, among the five main D.C. pro sports team, in potential fan-base optimism."

Honestly, as an active fan of all five of these teams, I'd rank my optimism as Caps, Skins, Nats, Wiz, United. At least the Wizards have the potential to be purchased by Ted Leonsis and re-branded with a lot of cap space. United are completely broke, no prayer of a stadium in the city and actually entertain thoughts of moving to Baltimore - doesn't get much worse than that!

Posted by: Kev29 | February 14, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Here is my question for you Dan-
DeShawn Stevenson has a huge tattoo on his back that says "STEVENSON" followed by a huge number "2", just like his jersey. He got traded to the Mavericks, and currently on the Mavs, Jason Kidd's Jersey number is 2. Therefore, DeShawn cannot be number 2. So what is Deshawn going to do? become "12" and tattoo a "1" in front of the "2"?

Posted by: Hammertime324 | February 14, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Blogger grammar alert.

Posted by: WorstSeat | February 14, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I say it's the curse of John Williams he was the last Bullet I truly got excited about watching play.

Posted by: MitchTooMuch | February 14, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

That first half of a season in first place came second, MJ brought some excitement too.

Posted by: MitchTooMuch | February 14, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

look. these idiot bloggers like steinberg and his ilk would rather talk about quirky, wacky players, than about winners. this team was never that good. the one season they had where they took cleveland to 6 games was a fluke. they were never going to win anything with a fool like arenas at the point. butler disrespected his coach at the end of a game this year by not running the play that was called. stevenson came to a game with "agent 0" taped to his socks. good riddance to them both. now, i will give haywood some dap. he was having a career year and he's really going to help the mavs, who have no center. but this team needed to be broken up, and they need to trade jamison too. then you start over. if you get lucky in the lottery and get wall, then you have money to make a run at durant, who is from pg county and might want to play here. that happens and you have an instant contender. if it doesn't happen you are certainly no worse off than you were with these clowns so whats the difference.

ps steinberg is a real judge of character. he likes arenas and he liked brandon lloyd. the word tool comes to mind.

Posted by: slim4 | February 14, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

slim, i hear you, but i don't think any highly regarded player will come here willingly until and unless we get "love under new management..." that's the name of a record, just in case you didn't know.

Posted by: dcjazzman | February 14, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I'd just hope Leonsis and his partners can complete their acquisition of the team, hire a GM and scouts who know how to build through the draft (and maybe a smart free agent acquisition or two) and gradually build the team back into a winner - or even just into something competent. The team has gone 36-96 (!)in the last season and a half. They're not "blowing up" anything but a historically bad team.

Posted by: blackjack65 | February 14, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards are awful, but you know what's really pathetic? The people who have got nothing better to do on the morning of Valentine's Day than attack Dan.

Don't worry guys, your special lady is out there somewhere. Keep getting so bitter about sports, I hear chicks dig that.

Posted by: bryc3 | February 14, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

i hear your wife digs it bryc3. she told me last night

Posted by: slim4 | February 14, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

(Kobe) Bryant said. "I hate to say that, but you guys (Dallas) are going to absolutely love him. You put him on a contender and I'm telling you, you're going to love him. And he's tough as nails, too." Mark Cuban said "It makes us significantly better." "Damp [Erick Dampier] is having problems with his knees and requires rest every now and then, and we were in a spot without having a shot-blocker behind him. Drew did a great job. He laid it out there every game for us to try to fill in. Going into the season we thought that would work, and it just didn't play out as planned.

"Any which way you evaluate his performance, [Haywood] has been a top-five to seven center. And he's a top-five center defensively. This gives us a lot of flexibility."

Posted by: dcjazzman | February 14, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

ooops! those quotes should be attributed to the Dallas News sports section.

Posted by: dcjazzman | February 14, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

This was how the Dallas News summed it up:
pick up our game, both to integrate these guys and to play better basketball."


MAVERICKS GET

G-F Caron Butler Two-time All-Star is averaging 16.9 points
C Brendan Haywood Averaging 9.8 points and 10.3 rebounds
G DeShawn Stevenson Career 8.2-point scorer in 11 seasons

WIZARDS GET

G-F Josh Howard Played 431 games for the Mavericks
F-C Drew Gooden Goes to his eighth team in eight seasons
F James Singleton Has averaged only 8.4 minutes this season
G-F Quinton Ross SMU grad heads to his fourth NBA stop

Posted by: dcjazzman | February 14, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The curse of Bob Ferry still haunts this team after 30 years.

Posted by: colezig37 | February 14, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards were like an old girlfriend who looked good but always broke your heart. There comes a time when you have to cut her loose and find someone who is better for you. You may be lonely for a while but you can never be happy when they fail to cooperate and try their best and leave the drama behind. Forget the old Wizards and start looking for players that will constitute a winning team. Until Gilberts' crazy drama there was no real reason to take the action of a break-up, but once it happened there was no reason to keep it together. Any free agent will consider the Wizards as long as the money is right. There will be a lot of teams shedding good players because of the economy and salary caps. Players will be available. Look at the Cavs with Amare, Shaq, and LeBron, there is no money for anyone else on the team, the Celtics, Lakers are other examples. Good players will be available. Half the teams are losing money, they will shed salaries. The Wizards should be in a position to pick up some good players and they have a number one draft pick and two number two's.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | February 14, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

We have a basketball team? Who knew?

Posted by: Megskin | February 14, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards of old were fun and entertaining but never resembled a team that was going to win. I'm glad they're rebuilding.

Please visit my blog at www.thedcsportsscene.blogspot.com

Posted by: Dlewis10 | February 14, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

What's with the Laettner hate? He was an All-star too, y'know.

Posted by: caps_fan_in_santa_monica | February 14, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

i hear your wife digs it bryc3. she told me last night

Posted by: slim4 | February 14, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

So I guess this guy will continue to add nothing to the conversation. How old are you, anyway? You call Steinberg an idiot than attack his character. Fine. It's your prerogative. But you sound like a petulant, bitter person. Add something substantive, please.

Posted by: CDon | February 14, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

My only question is how the he'll (creative spelling) is it that Ernie Grunfield is getting a pass? He has been on the clock over the whole Wizards debacle.

All they have been preaching is the Big 3, yada-yada. The thing is they weren't really that goood to begin with. Entertaining at times no doubt. I won't take that away from them. But championship material? No way in he-ll!!!

I'm ready for Ernie to depart once this season is over. Then an only then will this demolition be complete.

Last question. How is it that he consistently gave away draft picks but can't get a draft pick in return?

That roster is in utter dissary. I wish Jamison the best in his next stop but he will never, NEVER when a championship here.

As for Gil. He was dumb for doing what he did back in December but Wizards management enabled that behavior too. Not saying they enabled bringing guns into the arena. But the culture of the team and all the silliness that you would read about. They enabled that. You can't scapegoat Gil in the end. All this is not his fault.

Funny thing is when you look back to Abe Pollin running MJ out of town. Seem like he turning Charlotte around. Sure Kwame was a bust but so were Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. That's what they were choosing from.

Posted by: BigTee13 | February 15, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that not a word was heard from Flip Saunders about what is going on. I guess Ernie put a muzzle on Flip although from what I've read he and Butler were a bad match. I also read that some so called experts were saying that Jamison and Butler were not being usedproperly and were playing out of position--particularly Butler. There is no doubt Butler was not the player he has been this season. I guess some of the blame should go to Flip???

Posted by: vergens2 | February 15, 2010 5:06 AM | Report abuse

The real number there is the 11. Our draft history is a long and painful one.

Also, I'd still say this team only feels marginally worse than the years with Wes as the Coach.

Posted by: M__N | February 15, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Danny Girl,

How come you don't bog about the Cup finally coming home? Do boats make little Danny sea sick? Or is little Danny to fing stupid and he just can't grasp sail boat racing!!!! Since you are a stick and ball guy I guess its the latter.

Did you and Wise have a good V Day together at the day spa. Getting a bikini wax in the shape of a"W" is a little much!

What will the wifey say!

Posted by: vaherder | February 15, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

The people taking shots at Steinberg for reminiscing on some very fun and exciting Wiz teams from 04-08 need to STFU. Those teams gave this town a lot of good times.

The 04/05 team- a team that, except for a few of us, shocked a lot of people and won 45 games and made it to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Down 0-2 in the series, only a few teams in NBA history had overcome that deficit and we were won of them.

The 05/06 team- was 1 second from being up 2-1 over Cleveland in the 1st round series and had already stolen home court advantage when the refs decided to look the other way at LeBron's 4 step travel game winning play with a second left. It wouldn't have been so bad, except the refs AGAIN looked the other way when LeBron did the exact same thing in OT of game 5. It was LeBron's first trip to the playoffs, and the refs simply weren't going to let him be one and done.

The 06/07 team- the best team in the Eastern conference at the mid point of the season. Eddie Jordan coaching the Eastern conference all stars, Gilbert and Caron making the all star team. The several game lead over the defending NBA champ Miami Heat at the all star break. Then Caron Butler breaks his hand on a fluke play...and about a week later Eddie Jordan pulls Arenas from the starting lineup to discipline him and he comes off the bench, only to blow out his knee a few minutes later. This was the moment the team's future went down the drains. They limp into the playoffs without Arenas and Butler and get swept by Cleveland (thus beginning the idiotic claim that Cleveland owns the Wizards despite the Wiz owning the regular season series ever since lebron came into the league)

The 07/08 team- starts out 0-5 then climbs back to .500 then Arenas has to have a second surgery on his knee and misses several months. The team manages to position itself for the playoffs even without Arenas, then he comes back and hits his first 6 shots. The Wiz beat Boston (eventual champ) 3 times and seemed to be positioned to finally get past Cleveland but then Deshawn Stevenson had to go and call LeBron underrated and provoke King James prior to their playoff series. The Wiz were up until the final few minutes of game 1, then got blown out in game 2 and it was essentially over (though it did go to 6 games thanks to a great game 5 performance by the Wiz in Cleveland--winning for Abe).

Those were some good years people. No need to diminish those teams simply because you aren't a big Wiz/Bullets fan. Let us reminisce all we want about those teams, those were the best teams we've had since the 70s.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 15, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Blowing up this team was inevitable, unfortunately, it came a year too late. The Wizards received merely an assortment of spare parts for the players the formed the cornerstone of the franchise for the past couple of years. On top of it all, Wizards fans must continue to wait for a settlement of the Gilbert Arenas debacle.

For more on this, check out my blog at thegreezy.com

Posted by: greezy12 | February 19, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

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