Leonsis: Wiz trades "the right thing to do"
With the Wizards completely making over their roster, even as assessors are in the process of assessing the team's value in preparation for a potential ownership change, there are these strange side-by-side ownership group, who presumably could have separate opinions on the issues of the day. Almost feels like a government-in-exile, offering up its own opinions on key tariffs and infrastructure investment, even while the withering dynasty continues to set policy, dine on caviar and scan the waiver wire from inside the executive offices.
Fortunately for world peace, both ownership groups supported the Wizards' recent makeover.
"I think what the Wizards have done now was very in line with the kind of thinking that we would have," Ted Leonsis said last week on Washington Post Live. (Due to my vacation, these comments are new to me and thus fair game despite being nearly a week old.)
"You have to be honest," Leonsis continued. "Can the team win a championship as presently constructed? And clearly, the Wizards last year and this year struggled, so I think what the Pollin family has done was exactly the right thing to do.
"We own 44 percent of the team, we're in negotiations. I'm hoping that there's a positive outcome, I'm fairly confident that that will happen, but what the Pollin family just did was really wise, was the right thing to do. And you watch the games, young kids [are] playing really really hard, and very coachable, and there's a loose ball, someone grabs it, you see a teammate picking that kid up. And they're a much happier team now than they were over the last 18 months."
Indeed, Leonsis has frequently touted the benefits of rebuilding his hockey team behind young kids who like each other and are happy in D.C. Of course, his young kids were named Green and Ovechkin instead of Singleton and Ross, but the larger point still holds. Anyhow, Robert Pollin, son of Abe and part of the current leadership group, agreed with Leonsis in another week-old CSN interview, this one with Chris Miller.
"It was extremely difficult, emotionally," he said of the break-up. "You know, I give Ernie Grunfeld a huge amount of credit, because he built this team. And I talked to him many ttimes about this, I said, 'This is your baby, you brought these guys in. You brought in Gilbert, you brought in Antawn, you made tremendous moves. You brought in Caron for Kwame Brown, what a move. So this is your baby. Are you really ready to try something new?'
"He said absolutely, we have to face reality here, it's not working. And so we have to think for our fans, are we really an organization that wants just to hang on and maybe think about maybe having a chance at the last playoff spot? No. We want to think about rebuilding the whole thing and starting fresh, and giving Ernie another chance to build a championship contender."
Of course, popular opinion is that Leonsis is the one who will be saying "we" by the time the Wizards are good enough to challenge for a championship. Or maybe Leonsis's great-grandchildren, based on the franchise's history. But Pollin struck a strange note when Miller asked him if he's thought about what it will be like watching the Wizards after his family is no longer in charge.
"Well, that's all speculative for now," he said. "You know, we love the Wizards. I always loved the Wizards. And, who knows?"
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