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Leonsis: Wizards will have one of NBA's best backcourts


(By Laura Rauch - AP)

As the analysts and commentators continue to debate whether Gilbert Arenas should come back to the Washington Wizards and share a locker room with John Wall, owner Ted Leonsis continues to predict good things from that duo.

"If LeBron James can be a co-star in Miami, Gilbert Arenas can be a star and a co-star here in Washington, D.C.," Leonsis said on Mike Wise's 106.7 The Fan one-year anniversary show. "I communicate all the time with Gilbert. Obviously like anything in life, the proof's in the pudding, but so far I'm very very optimistic that Gilbert is really in shape, he's healthy, he's very very positive, and that he will be a really good contributor to our team. And I think we're going to have one of the best backcourts in the NBA. I think Wall and Gilbert and Hinrich are three high quality, very very good guards, and now we have to build the rest of the team."

Leonsis repeated that he wouldn't have traded the No. 5 pick last year, but that adding veterans fit in with the plan Ernie Grunfeld was tasked with, so he doesn't hold that against his front-office.

He also said that this new Wizards team will get up and down the court, that "you're gonna see a team that puts up a lot of points and just runs the floor, because our big men can run and our guards are fast and we have a player in John Wall who likes to make all the players around him better. The big guys go down the court because they know if they hustle they'll get the ball and they score. That's what you want."

This, he said, will be the system the Wizards will build around.

"We want a coach, a system where the young players can learn the system and grow up and believe in each other," Leonsis said. "And then after we see what we're building together and a new level of enthusiasm and better chemistry, then we can add via trades and free agency. But it's vital for us to say we want to be younger, we want to be faster, we want to be a tougher team."

(For reasons unclear -- joking, I guess -- Wise also asked Leonsis whether he'd ever want to buy the Redskins.

"I don't think the Redskins will ever be for sale, and I have my hands full," Leonsis said. "I love hockey, I love basketball, I'm all set.")

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 20, 2010; 1:08 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Leonsis: Wall will add years to Gilbert's career

Comments

Yes, the Wizards back court will definitely be one of the 30 best in the league.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 20, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Was Grunfeld tasked with adding veterans that were one year rentals in exchange for the fifth pick?

Posted by: efa108 | July 20, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Paul Westhead should be the coach.

Posted by: mcw28 | July 20, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

It makes me happy that Leonsis stated that he would NOT have traded last year's 5th pick. The 5th picks in the NBA draft are always selected as a potential all-star in the making; not roles players like Foye and Miller. Granted, we can't change anything now, but he makes it very clear to all, including Ernie, his philosophy of building a perennial NBA Championship contender: no dumb, lopsided trades and maximize each draft for an infusion of youth, speed, and toughness. I think we finally got the right owner on board, perhaps a few years too late, but nonetheless, he's now here!

Posted by: humen8r | July 20, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: efa108 | July 20, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Yes he was...Actually I am happy they were one year rentals...that means salary cap relief...I'd rather have people who failed in a system for one year rather than multiple years...

Posted by: merajc86 | July 20, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

merajc86 - there are better ways to free up cap space than giving away the fifth pick.

Posted by: efa108 | July 20, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone thought that if we did select a young gun with the fifth pick, we would've done better during the season, have a better record, and possibly MISS John wall in the lottery. Everything happens for a reason people. I'll take wall over Curry thank you very much! Our owner was hell bent on veteran selfishness...now we have youth open-ness and a STAR!!!

Posted by: BurgwithaU | July 20, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

(For reasons unclear -- joking, I guess -- Wise also asked Leonsis whether he'd ever want to buy the Redskins.

"I don't think the Redskins will ever be for sale, and I have my hands full," Leonsis said. "I love hockey, I love basketball, I'm all set.")

Not exactly a denial of his desire to buy. One can always dream...

Posted by: playahatah | July 20, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

such a breath of fresh air!

Posted by: mrhney03 | July 20, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

merajc86 - there are better ways to free up cap space than giving away the fifth pick.

Posted by: efa108 | July 20, 2010 2:18 PM

Ernie wanted to take a shot at actually winning a lot of games while he thought they could with Gilbert, Antawn, Caron and Hayward. The plan burnt to hell, whatever. Then he blew it up real nice over the Winter. He gambled and Gilbert ruined it, big deal. Let's move on with John Wall.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 20, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Aw Tedddy man, please don't fall into this Capt. Save-a-hoe trap man...Zero is a malcontent who has missed 3 years. Please don't derail progress by keeping this guy around HOPING that he'll transform into a 'winner'. He's damaged goods and no amount of duct tape can fix it; move him and Young and be done with them.

Sometimes you have to bite the big one and take a loss to then move forward. Zero and Haynesworth are guys that have talent but aren't WINNERS and this town has had enough of that type of player.

Who would you rather be: Karl Malone or Robert Horry? What matters more, RINGS or REP?

Posted by: kahlua87 | July 20, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

All of this John Wall hype is way over the top. Adrian Fenty declared it "John Wall Day" in the District before kid had played even a minute of NBA ball, and the D.C. media's giving him the full rock star treatment. Give me a break. In another year or two, that same media will be complaining about how Wall's ego is out of control. Wall is a nice player, but he's not there yet. Let's not put him on a pedestal yet because he won a few summer league games. When the regular season starts and the big boys come out to play, Wall will definitely have to take his game to a whole different level or they'll have him figured out by Christmas. I'm not saying he won't be good, I just wish people would get off his jock a little.

Posted by: sonny2 | July 20, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"Has anyone thought that if we did select a young gun with the fifth pick, we would've done better during the season, have a better record, and possibly MISS John wall in the lottery. Everything happens for a reason people. I'll take wall over Curry thank you very much! Our owner was hell bent on veteran selfishness...now we have youth open-ness and a STAR!!!"

How about Curry AND Turner, or Favors, or Cousins, or Johnson or possibly even Wall? That's what last year's trade has cost us.

Posted by: SammyT1 | July 20, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I guess it's clear now that Abe was behind that mess of a draft the year before. To think we may have had a #5 pick and Dejuan Blair carry over. Even if we got Rubio with the pick we had some trade value now which is more than I can say we ended up with. Basically gave Mineesota the pick.

As far as the Redskins to Ted, I say if this next regime doesn't get the job done it's time TO SELL TO TED!!!!

Posted by: Eman8 | July 20, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Leonsis has blowhardary down to a science.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 20, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Just out of curiousity, shouldn't the GM be the one who makes the decision on whether to trade a draft pick rather than the owner? Leonsis is doing just what Snyder has constantly been slammed for doing.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 20, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

All of this John Wall hype is way over the top. Adrian Fenty declared it "John Wall Day" in the District before kid had played even a minute of NBA ball, and the D.C. media's giving him the full rock star treatment. Give me a break. In another year or two, that same media will be complaining about how Wall's ego is out of control. Wall is a nice player, but he's not there yet. Let's not put him on a pedestal yet because he won a few summer league games. When the regular season starts and the big boys come out to play, Wall will definitely have to take his game to a whole different level or they'll have him figured out by Christmas. I'm not saying he won't be good, I just wish people would get off his jock a little.

Posted by: sonny2 | July 20, 2010 4:21 PM |

Figured out by Christmas? Hell, they don't start playing defense until after March!

Posted by: leo25 | July 20, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Just out of curiousity, shouldn't the GM be the one who makes the decision on whether to trade a draft pick rather than the owner? Leonsis is doing just what Snyder has constantly been slammed for doing.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 20, 2010 4:55 PM


True, but Ted is building a winner with the Caps and is fan friendly. Snyder is a tyrant jock sniffer who knows how to pimp a dollar for his own pockets...he and Angelos don't know squat about winning

Posted by: kahlua87 | July 20, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I can't begin to describe the depths of my joy if The Ted could get the Redskins away from Little Danny and his merry band of idiots.

Posted by: DC2Dallas | July 20, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Just out of curiousity, shouldn't the GM be the one who makes the decision on whether to trade a draft pick rather than the owner? Leonsis is doing just what Snyder has constantly been slammed for doing.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 20, 2010 4:55 PM

Ted didn't (seem to) mean that he would have been making the decision. He was just saying what he's been saying, which is that it all starts with the owner's mandate. Abe's in 2009 was to win now. Ted's in 2010 (and seemingly going forward) is to build the foundation with draft picks. So, if Ernie had kept the pick and maybe let Rubio stay in Europe, he'd be disobeying Abe's mandate, just like if he traded the #1 pick for veterans this year, he'd be disobeying Ted's mandate.

Posted by: Urnesto | July 20, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Ted is clearly clueless when it comes to b-ball.

Posted by: larryrob | July 20, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

I guess the coach of the Miami Heat and Pat Riley are stupid when acquiring players. They felt Mike Miller was a match made in heaven when they added him to a nucleus of a power forward, small forward and combo guard, just like the Wizards did. They also love his play-making, rebounding, passing and 3 point shooting ability and are willing to pay him more than anyone else on the team besides the big three in order to get him to become a Heat player. They feel on a veteran team he is the difference maker. So did Ernie. Guess you guys know better than E.G, and Pat Riley.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | July 21, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised no Nick Young mentioned, as far as backcourt. He is tough for anybody to deal with in the NBA, and I mean anybody.

Posted by: CTaylor42 | July 21, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Ernie's a clown. Miller (and even Foye) is not a bad player. He can shoot and rebound but isn't really a playmaker. He's a better secondary option than a #1/#2 guy so the Wizards used him incorrectly in a role that didn't suit him. The problem with EG's trade last year is we gave up the #5 overall for 2 guys and then blew them out of town within the year. EG made the deal for Foye and Miller to win now. Then on July 8, he renounced their rights. Both guys sign elsewhere within 24 hours.

Posted by: calhokie | July 21, 2010 2:19 AM | Report abuse

To CTaylor42... I think Ted was not necessarily intending to slight NY by not mentioning him in the same breath with Wall, Gil and Hinrich... Those are the guys who will get 85% of the minutes at the guard slots, assuming they are healthy and there is not a reasonable deal to be made for Gil ... whom I still want to see play a bit with Wall.

Looking at the other things said and not said, I think Nick, at 6-7 in shoes and with the muscle and weight he has apparently added, has a very good chance of playing more minutes at SF than in the backcourt. Unless the Wizards sign JHoward cheap and/or add Cartier Martin (not a bad idea), the current SF contingent for 2010-11 includes just Thornton (a pure 3), Booker (a 3-4), Yi (a 3-4-5) and Nick (a 2-3)... And of that group, I think I like Nick's chances best.

Posted by: khrabb | July 21, 2010 6:04 AM | Report abuse

What exactly has Ernie done to encourage Ted to keep him on after this coming season?
He signs Arenas to a max contract..coming off knee surgery? so far..that has been a total bust because of all the injuries, and guns.
No team will pick up Gil`s contract with 80 million owed to him. He stays in D.C.!!
Ted said he would not have traded the no. 5 pick..that is a direct criticism of Ernie.
The fact that neither player will be on the team this coming season..is proof of that.
The No. 5 pick last year..coupled with John Wall this year...the Wizards really screwed up..big time.
Over the last 4 years or so..Ernie put together a team that played NO DEFENSE to speak of. He traded Roger Mason Jr. a great 3 pt. shooter. Nick Young has yet to show any consistency on either end of the floor...another high pick wasted.
Abe was out of touch with what was going on
with the team..for a number of years. I think he rubber-stamped whatever Ernie wanted to do.
Actually..if one looks back over the last
15 years or so..Washington has traded away
a number of all pro players. At one point 3 out of Detroit`s starting 5 that won the championship..were traded to them from Washington.

Posted by: blazerguy234 | July 21, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

I like Mr. Leonsis' approach towards building a team through the youth movement. Although I do like Coach Flip Saunders, I think Coach Byron Scott would've been a better fit.

Posted by: carterm1 | July 21, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Ted is clearly clueless when it comes to b-ball.

Posted by: larryrob | July 20, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Most owners are clueless about the sport. That's why the good owners hire top people and let them run the team. Jack Kent Cooke didn't know anything about football, but his team did pretty well...

Posted by: randysbailin | July 21, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Man its almost impossible to read comments on a great story without hearing some noise about Gilbert Arenas. I love these guys that say trade '0' trade Gilbert (kahlua87)...but don't know a damn thing about what a trade involves or value or anything like that. They think you can magically put a guy on the trading block and teams line up and want to do business...let me bring you back down to earth...GILBERT ARENAS HAS A CONTRACT NO. OF APROX. 70 MILLION DOLLARS. HE'S HASN'T PLAYED A FULL SEASON IN 3 YEARS...HE HAS A FELONY GUN CHARGE..If I'm an owner I really want that to take a chance on that...NOT!!! So trading him isn't the easiest thng in the world. I personally think that the 'Zard's should not trade him. People forget the only reason why the Wizards were at one point were even in contention was because of...wait for it...Gilbert Arenas. The Wizards are now in a rebuilding period...They in my opinion have the right building blocks to build a contender...a very smart owner an amazing point guard a good shooting guard and some good young talent in other areas. Why would you...even if you could.. trade away a major piece of that puzzle. If you are smart YOU DON'T!! Leonsis is right the Wizards will have one of the best back courts in the NBA...and I can't wait to see them. So please all the Gilbert haters and the fake-a$$ general managers out there stop with the 'trade Gilbert' noise it really is irritating!!!

Posted by: JAMESAADAMS | July 21, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

>>Ted didn't (seem to) mean that he would have been making the decision. He was just saying what he's been saying, which is that it all starts with the owner's mandate. Abe's in 2009 was to win now. Ted's in 2010 (and seemingly going forward) is to build the foundation with draft picks. So, if Ernie had kept the pick and maybe let Rubio stay in Europe, he'd be disobeying Abe's mandate, just like if he traded the #1 pick for veterans this year, he'd be disobeying Ted's mandate.<<<<

And Leonsis is qualified to know whether building with youth works in the NBA how? Look, the guy didn't win anything yet with the Caps. Ovechkin is 90% responsible for the improvement of the team's fortune and that was complete luck. Leonsis is a blow hard and shouldn't be making those decisions. He should be telling the people that know basketball (or hockey) win me a championship and keep me advised as to what you are doing. And then playing with his computer and keeping his nose out of things.

Posted by: poguesmahone | July 21, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

And Leonsis is qualified to know whether building with youth works in the NBA how? Look, the guy didn't win anything yet with the Caps. Ovechkin is 90% responsible for the improvement of the team's fortune and that was complete luck. Leonsis is a blow hard and shouldn't be making those decisions
Posted by: poguesmahone | July 21, 2010 11:41 AM

Leonsis has not been successfull by some way of freak accident. The man is a visonary. Leonsis a "blow hard", give me a break. The future is the youth!!

Posted by: Newington32 | July 21, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

There is no way to predict what would have happened if we kept the 5th pick last year.. Lets stop worrying and be thankful that John Wall is seemingly not Kwame Brown.. Trading Gilbert is not easy and should be considered but not overly desired. Im actually excited to see him and Wall.. Ovechkin is about 25 percent responsible for the improvement. The savvy moves made by Mcphee are mostly responsible. His anti redskin sentiment of not overpaying free agents and not signing long term deals is what has put the caps in the position they are in now.. Anyways Ted has the right idea and more importantly he has a vision and a strong will. These characteristics make it easy for his employees to follow him and also have a clear idea of what they should do. I expect that if kept on Ernie Grunfeld will do quite well acquiring talent for the Wizards. The NBA is probably the easiest league to come up on young talent. Most teams don't put a lot of stock in young players unless they have already proven themselves. Anyways I wouldnt be suprised if the wizards won 40 games this year and snuck into the playoffs. MAybe even take the top seed to six games..

Posted by: Johnny_Playmaker | July 21, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Ted is a man of integrity and I can take what he says at face value. I wish others would follow suit, especially writers and those that comment on issues about his decision regarding Arenas. I know Ted is not the type of guy to laugh at the naysayers, but when the Wizards are in mid-season form I know his smile will say, "I told you so." Gil, make Ted proud of you. Hope to meet you one day Ted.

Posted by: esmith4 | July 22, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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