You Asked, I'll Answer (Part III)

Question No. 4, From GshawnJohnson:
Is there another trade coming? Seems like Grunfeld has preserved roster flexibility by acquiring expiring contracts and keeping his young players... perhaps he's planning to evaluate the team at the deadline and then make another trade (dumping salary and vets for picks and youth if we're doing bad, and packaging players for another "star" if we're doing good)?

Great question. I think you are on to something that I have wanted to talk about for a few weeks. I recently wrote that this is the deepest Wizards team this decade and it has more talent than the 2004-05 squad that advanced to the second round of the playoffs. But what makes the Wizards' depth more important is that for the first time in a long time, they have several pieces that other teams might actually want. They have what Ernie Grunfeld likes to call, "assets." The Wizards' collection of talent could either make the team really good on the court or improve its chances of making another trade to get better.


Ernie held on to me for a reason. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Grunfeld talked to almost half of the league this summer when he was looking to move the No. 5 pick, and during that process, he realized that there was a high demand for some of the players on his roster. Phoenix discussed Amaré Stoudemire but Grunfeld was unwilling to give up Antawn Jamison or Caron Butler. Several other teams, including Golden State and Portland, contacted him about Butler. So he was able to gauge the value of his all-star talents. Combine that with having almost $22 million in expiring contracts (Mike Miller, Brendan Haywood, Mike James and Dominic McGuire) and some promising young players (Nick Young, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and Javaris Crittenton) and you can see that the Wizards have some pieces in place to make an upgrade, if necessary, near the trade deadline.

By holding on to his core players at last season's trade deadline and again this summer, Grunfeld has the Wizards in position to pay an $8 million luxury tax penalty. The Wizards don't have the look of a desperate team looking to cut costs. They are going all in with what they have. But with so much money being thrown at this roster -- and even more going to Flip Saunders -- it has to yield some results.

I wouldn't say that another trade is coming because this team hasn't hit the court yet. I don't think Grunfeld would consider making a move until February because he really wants to see Gilbert Arenas, Butler and Jamison get a full season in together.

Problem is, the trio has only been able to start in 115 out of a possible 328 games since Butler arrived in 2005. Arenas, Butler and Jamison have won 58 percent of the games that they've started together (a 48-win pace), but I doubt if Grunfeld would be willing to hold on if they have another season derailed by injuries. This really is a huge year for that trio, especially with Butler turning 30 in March and eligible for free agency in 2011.

Question No. 5, From dcball:
Flip Saunders was ruthlessly called out by his players in the PLAYOFFS. How hard is it to command respect amongst players in the league after that? Or does a new team wipe the slate clean?

Things in Detroit got really ugly. Ben Wallace disliked him and eventually left for Chicago because of it (that, and $60 million). Several players (Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, even Antonio McDyess) called him out during that Eastern Conference finals loss to the Miami Heat in 2006. Chris Webber, who was a member of the Pistons when they blew a 2-0 series lead against Cleveland in the conference finals in 2007, once said on TNT that the Pistons didn't listen to Saunders. Rip Hamilton expressed his frustration with Saunders shortly after he was gone.


This is awkward.(UPI Photo/Scott R. Galvin)

Those incidents shouldn't be taken lightly but they should also be taken in context. You have to understand that coaching the Pistons has been one of the toughest jobs in the league this decade. Detroit is already on its sixth coach since 2000 after disposing of George Irvine, Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown, Saunders and Michael Curry.

Saunders perhaps had the toughest gig of them all because he followed up Brown, who led the Pistons to a championship in 2004 and back to the Finals a year later. Taking over a veteran team filled with stubborn old dogs who have had success is not an easy task for anyone but Saunders lasted three years and made it to the conference finals in each of those seasons. That being said, Saunders struggled to make the proper adjustments in tight playoff series as coach of Minnesota and Detroit. The Pistons just weren't afraid to publicly question him.

When Saunders landed with the Wizards, Hamilton praised the move, possibly because he realized that playing for Saunders wasn't all that bad. While Saunders still has confidence in his system, he has learned from that experience. He blamed some of his problems in Detroit on not establishing enough personal relationships with his players, which explains why he has been bouncing around the country meeting up with players this summer.

A new team doesn't wipe the slate clean because you have to take the bad with the good. Players talk and gossip all the time. They know what happened in the past. But with the Wizards, they are coming off a 19-win season, not a trip to the NBA Finals. The players here are open to anyone who can help them win games and erase the taste from last season.

Say what you will about Saunders's inability to reach the NBA Finals, he still has reached the conference finals four times since 2004 -- and he sat out last season. In the past six seasons, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich have made three trips and Stan Van Gundy, Mike D'Antoni and Mike Brown have made two. The Wizards have been absent from the conference finals for 30 years. Saunders should have the ears of his players right away. He'll get more respect if he has success.

By Michael Lee |  September 3, 2009; 9:08 AM ET
Previous: You Asked, I'll Answer (Part II) | Next: You Asked, I'll Answer (Part IV)

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...sounds like you're implying that Ernie will only make a trade if the Wiz are playing poorly, come Feb. Which may certainly be true and we can expect to see one or more of the big 3 shipped out...but I think if the Wiz are playing well come Jan/Feb it would be wize to make a trade as well, but to complement the big 3 and bring in that low post scorer/defender the Wiz will need to go deep into the playoffs and perhaps even help give them a shot at the title.

Posted by: oddjob1 | September 3, 2009 9:33 AM

1st!

Posted by: BBallFOO | September 3, 2009 9:34 AM

Great posts, Mike.

BTW, I believe you meant to say Butler arrived in 2005 not 2008.

Posted by: cannontl | September 3, 2009 9:35 AM

damn u oddjob! Wiz to the finals is GOOO!

Posted by: BBallFOO | September 3, 2009 9:35 AM

Depth is important, especially given the endless grind that is the regular season, but you could argue that the Wiz roster is actually too deep -- almost certain to have some worthy players who aren't going to make it out onto the court. And not just because of Flip's preference for an eight man rotation, either. He's got twelve or thirteen with legit claims to court time. Not that they'd play well, but that they've evidenced enough potential to justify a shot.

Yep, even Stevenson and Mike James. Those players could help somebody, if not Washington.

I was really surprised Grunfeld was able to move Etan and Pecherov. That's all to the good; two good players who won't be complaining from the end of our bench. Songaila is a bit of a loss, however. I suspect that if they'd kept Darius they wouldn't have signed Oberto. But Minnesota wanted him, and I don't blame them.

IMO the Wiz' challenge is undeveloped talent. Nobody argues about the quality of their young players, but there's general agreement that they're not ready for prime time. You forget that when they're on the bench, and remember it after they've been on the court for fifteen or twenty minutes. McGuire, the least talented of the young guys, is also the most likely to contribute in a game -- that's the upside-down nature of the Wiz' situation.

The NBA seems full of big talents who never develop into the players they might have been.

Posted by: Samson151 | September 3, 2009 9:37 AM

Nice job summarizing the situation in Detroit. Hopefully this time it'll stick in the heads of some less than sharp folks who think to question Saunders coaching credentials based solely on the fact that he didn't get the Pistons back to the Finals. (Hope springs eternal)

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 9:57 AM

From our $22 million in expiring contracts, what do you think our strategy is going to be as far as re-signing BTH, Dom, and Miller?

On the one hand, the luxury tax threshold is projected to drop, and we'd like to avoid another big luxury tax hit, so we might be tempted to let someone sign elsewhere. On the other hand, with the salary cap also expected to fall next year, maybe there won't be many competing offers, so we might be able to re-sign our guys for multiple years at a discounted rate. Would we be willing to pay the luxury tax for another year to lock in discounted salaries in future years?

Posted by: yop32 | September 3, 2009 10:11 AM

Good analysis. The players and coach have to meet somewhere in the middle. Team chemistry comes with time as confidence and trust build.

Flip is making the right moves so far. Let's see who responds in kind.

Posted by: Izman | September 3, 2009 10:13 AM

Another good post Mike! The Wiz are deep and could easily get deeper, summer 2010 should be interesting around here. I can see us still landing Amare IF we sign and trade Haywood. (I'm not sure that would be the best fit, Haywood fits the team, an important part) In pro sports if it's not all right, it's all wrong...everybody has to play their role.

If a move is made, I don't think the best player will necessarily make the team better...rather someone that can fill a perceived void.

Posted by: Gooddad | September 3, 2009 10:53 AM

Great post. Thanks for the answer.

Posted by: dcball | September 3, 2009 10:58 AM

Great answers again. Definitely on point about Flip. As a diehard fan, I can't help but smile when I think about the motivation on this team. We've got an all-star who showed flashes of being a Superstar only to get hurt. Now that man is dying to prove he belongs in the upper echelon of stars. Then we've got a good coach who had a bad run and now wants to prove he's learned his mistakes. Then you've got Center coming back from injury with something to prove to earn the next contract. I love it. Throw in the fact that we will have competition at the starting 2 and that the youngins understand this is either the "show it or say good bye" year for them and you should be able to tell we've got the right ingredients to really make this a successful year. Can't wait for the season to start!

Posted by: Bullzards80 | September 3, 2009 11:01 AM

Mike, without a doubt, the question/answer series have been the most interesting reads in months. Thank you for taking the time to answer interesting questions.

I think it is fair, at this point, to recognize the extremely competent job that Ernie Grunfeld has done. A brief list:
DeShawn Stevenson for Jared Jeffries
Caron Butler for Kwame Brown
Gilbert Arenas 5 years for 25 million (I think)
AJ for Jerry Stackhouse
Flip Saunders for Eddie Jordan
Mike Miller/Randy Foye for Rubio who is now in Spain.

All while not mortgaging the future. We have a deep team with lots of talent (young and veteran) to deal with other teams.

Posted by: larry31 | September 3, 2009 11:35 AM

larry31, you're leaving out a few details (the AJ trade also involved #5 pick Devin Harris), and Gilbert never signed for $5 million/year (more like twice that).

Still, I agree that Grunfeld has done a better job that any other Bullets GM in the last 30 years.

Posted by: jimwest20 | September 3, 2009 11:56 AM

Ernie Grunfield is a genius! I know he has his haters, but the man has done something that most teams can't do. He built a solid playoff team (and possible title contender), picked up a proven coach, has multiple talent at every position, and still has 22 million coming off the books in the most hyped free agent list in the summer of 2010. How many other teams can say that.

Posted by: CBell29 | September 3, 2009 11:59 AM

JimWest,

Good point about Devin Harris...but I still think the deal improved the Wizards.

Most people thought the Wizards overpaid for Gil initially, but after 2 years felt it was a steal. Korheiser specifically stated that it was a horrible deal because Gil was too flaky.

Grunfeld probably overpaid Gil in his second contract (especially considering the injuries), but some dumbass GM would have overpaid for Gil if we didn't and we would be stuck with a huge void to fill. So, considering the circumstances, Grunfeld did what he had to.

Posted by: larry31 | September 3, 2009 12:24 PM

Gil = 2010 All-Star.

Posted by: Bullzards80 | September 3, 2009 12:42 PM

In my opinion, this team is deep at the guard position but they could really use another big. I love the Wizards but I don't think this team is good enough to beat Boston, Orlando or Cleveland in the playoffs. This team is built to make the playoffs not for a championship. Ernie has a done a great job with the moves that he's made but we are a still a few players away from contending for a ring.

Posted by: stingem1 | September 3, 2009 1:23 PM

Mike,
Intelligent answers to some very good questions are creating some reasonable (for a change) comments.
Now I'm seeing favorable posts about EG. Who'd a thunk it?
I think this team will have at least 2 all stars and Flip will coach them in the AS game.
Still there remains the 2 big IFs for the team----Health & a breakout year for a couple of previous disappointments.

Posted by: VBFan | September 3, 2009 2:16 PM

Stingem:

I think the wizards are definitely built to beat any team in the Eastern Conference. Not saying they will, just that they can and have close to a 50/50 chance of doing it.

The team I am least worried about of those three is the Celtics. Old old old. There will be injuries on that team and a lot of games missed. the only way a team that old can play in the playoffs is if they get the rest during the season, which will mean they don't get the top seed. out of Wallace, Garnett, Allen and Pierce, I predict one of them is out for the season by March and another one is hobbled for the playoffs.

Besides, I don't see Garnett or Sheed being what they were the last two years, much less their prime of 6 years ago. Remember people, this isn't 2001 Wallace paired with the 2004 garnett and the 2006 Pierce and the 2000 Allen. this is a team who's best 4 players have played an average of 13 years in the NBA. they are all (or were) great players but father time is taking its toll.

Celts have some good depth, but I'll take my chances with our guys against Scalabrine, Perkins, Davis and Rondo.

Orlando may have made a great move, but I really thought having Turk is how they got to the finals last year. We'll see.

We did OK last year against Cleveland with a decimated team. Hopefully we can play as hard this year with better talent. I'll take whatever odds on that bet, too.

our excess of guards is good when we aren't sure how sturdy Stevenson and Arenas will be. Think about it. We now have backups for the backups.

Posted by: Blurred | September 3, 2009 2:18 PM

Blurred,

Well I hope you're right, Boston is old but they're tough in places that we aren't. Most teams in the eastern conference have an edge on us on the inside offensively and defensively. I agree with you about Orlando, Turk took the lead on that team and carried them at times, Carter has shied away from that role in the past. I'm excited to see our guards play with Gil coming back, Nick improving, Foye's arrival and Miller shooting the three. Tough juice needs to be tough juice again, play inside the 3 point line and help on the inside where we'll need it. I think we'll have success in the up tempo game, I worry about us in the half court game. I'm worried about how tough we'll be. We should look like a new team this year but it may take some time to gel with the new coach. We'll see..

Posted by: stingem1 | September 3, 2009 2:37 PM

I'm tired of hearing about the defense. It was terrible UNDER EDDIE. He's gone. Until they start giving up 3's and 110 points every game under Flip...it's the past. I don't know how it's going to be. They have perimiter defenders with DeShawn, D-Mac and Butler when he wants to and Haywood, Blatche and McGee (maybe) can defend the rim.

Gil has the ABILITY to play defense but it was never required here. Foye is a pretty good defender from what I read as well. Critt works hard on that end too...I think they can be a better defensive team. Not the Lakers or anything...but improved with a very good offense.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 3, 2009 2:47 PM

Superb analysis, Mr. Lee.

Posted by: SammyT1 | September 3, 2009 2:49 PM

Pretty much every player in the NBA has the ability to play defense. A lot of them simply decide not to. And I seem to recall that Stevenson, McGuire, Butler, Haywood, and Blatche all spent more than a minute playing for Jordan.

All of which is to say that it's not just the coach. Can Flip coach defense? Sure. But I'm not under the impression that Jordan can't. But you can only teach to those willing to learn.

The reality is that Jordan didn't have the personnel in Washington to play great defense so he decided to maximize what he did have in the players he was given, a trait that Saunders himself has been praised for in the past.

We'll see what happens.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 2:59 PM

Mike,
I am in the minority here on this blog when I say that I believe that this Wiz team has a chance to go all the way. Even though conventional wisdom (and history) have shown that defense first teams win championships, all it takes is one team to change that. The same belief was pervasive in football until the Colts won it a few years back. (and yes, I know it's a different sport)
I still believe that the Suns team that was 'robbed' by the suspensions a few years ago had the skill to perhaps kiss the cup. I look at the Lakers run and gun teams from years past and they had two or three defensive players. Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and Rambis played some D. Magic, Worthy and Kareem were guys that excelled mainly on 'O'. Now, I'm not trying to compare us to Showtime but I'm just saying...it can be done but rebounding is the key.
I'm also mindful of the Nuggets teams with Issel, Kiki, Fat Lever and Alex English that scored a lot and lost every year in the playoffs because TR Dunn was the only guy that played D.
What I should have asked you a couple days ago was this...
Why CAN'T we reasonably hope to get to the Finals if Gil is healthy? No team in the league has our firepower when we're healthy. NONE. I havent done the research but if you add up and average the ppg for each of our top 7 or 8 players over the last few years, we're probably up there at or near the top in the league.
Gil, Cb, AJ, MM, Foye, BTH, AB will be able to score with the best of them.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 3:05 PM

I expect no less than a competitive 2nd round for us this year with a decent shot at a Conference Finals berth.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 3:07 PM

The wizards have offensive players that can't play defense and defensive players that can't play offense. Are there any 2-way players on the squad? Haywood improved his offense. Stevenson can play offense in his role as an open shooter and is a decent defender. McGuire needs to improve his outside shot, but he is a good finisher. Butler, Jamison, Foye, and Arenas are tweeners which limit there defensive potential because they are either too small or too slow. Nick, Blatche, JaVale have the potential to be two-way. Miller is what you see is what you get, offense only.

Posted by: G-Man11 | September 3, 2009 3:07 PM

"I havent done the research but if you add up and average the ppg for each of our top 7 or 8 players over the last few years, we're probably up there at or near the top in the league."

Which, even if true, is meaningless, because that's not how winners are determined. One of the things that happens on a team that's loaded with offensive weapons is that players' numbers decline as they're asked to sacrifice for the team and take on different roles. How well players make that adjustment will be a major factor in determining success, and no amount of start crunching can predict that. That's something that can only be discovered once they tip it up.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 3:10 PM

Pretty much every player in the NBA has the ability to play defense. A lot of them simply decide not to. And I seem to recall that Stevenson, McGuire, Butler, Haywood, and Blatche all spent more than a minute playing for Jordan.

All of which is to say that it's not just the coach. Can Flip coach defense? Sure. But I'm not under the impression that Jordan can't. But you can only teach to those willing to learn.

The reality is that Jordan didn't have the personnel in Washington to play great defense so he decided to maximize what he did have in the players he was given, a trait that Saunders himself has been praised for in the past.

We'll see what happens.

By the ability to play defense...I mean has the lateral quickness and physical abilities to be a much better defender than he (Gil) is. DeShawn and McGuire we're above average defenders. Caron was as well (maybe the reliance on his scoring knocked his defense down some?)

To me it never seemed like defense was stressed. Eddie always seemed like a system coach and seemed indifferent about defense. I honestly don't know if it's always been a personnel issue. Then again I've never been at a practice...but they never even played a style conducive to playing defense either.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 3, 2009 3:14 PM

I never stated that winners are determined by ppg. My sole point is that we can score a lot of points while not all teams can make that claim. Again, that alone does not guarantee success (see my point about the old Nuggets). But it DOES differentiate us from a lot of teams that struggle to score because they rely on one or two offensive weapons during crunch time. If one guy is off, the other can be doubled.
I'd much rather have MM, Gil, AJ and CB on the floor when I'm down by a bucket and need to score than LeBron and Mo Williams. Most teams have 2 options while we have at least 4.
Of course, if we're down by 10 because we played no defense during the first 47 and a half minutes, it's a moot point.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 3:16 PM

...but I agree that it's all conjecture til we actually start playing. I'm pretty sure the Lakers with Malone and Payton thought they'd win it all, too.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 3:17 PM

...but I agree that it's all conjecture til we actually start playing. I'm pretty sure the Lakers with Malone and Payton thought they'd win it all, too.

EXACTLY!

which is why I'm not drinking any kool-aid yet, FROM ANYONE...though I would like to have the Wizards have a great season.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 3, 2009 3:24 PM

Is there another trade coming?

The answer is YES. Since, the Wizards will be in the hunt for a playoff spot Ernie will see he still needs to upgrade the front court in order to compete with BOs, Orl and Clev. Based on the guard rotation he will be willing to trade MJ's contract and I think NY and/or AB ($11,181,400) for a veteran big man. If they have determined MM isn’t the player he once was I believe they will let him walk with Oberto and that will save the team about 11 million next year.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 3, 2009 3:32 PM

78 - I hope NY and/or Blatche will be playing so well that we won't dare trade them. Unfortunately, I think you are right on target here.

Posted by: Blurred | September 3, 2009 3:42 PM

"My sole point is that we can score a lot of points while not all teams can make that claim. "

And my sole point is that being able to score a lot of points, in and of itself, is utterly irrelevant. The Spurs and Pistons didn't score a lot of points when they got to the Finals and won titles. Conversely, some of the highest scoring teams in the league over the last few seasons never made it past the first round (if they even got into the playoffs at all).

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 3:44 PM

"By the ability to play defense...I mean has the lateral quickness and physical abilities to be a much better defender than he (Gil) is."

Defensive ability can't necessarily be measured by athletic ability. Some of the best defenders over the course of the last couple of decades have been guys who weren't overly gifted physically, either in terms of size, speed, quickness, or athleticism. They succeed at it because they had a will and determination to get the job done and a willingness to put in the work to learn and develop the proper skills and mindset. Without that, it doesn't matter what kind of physical gifts a guy has. With it, a lot of relative physical disadvantages can be overcome through smarts and hard work.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 3:48 PM

Original Mark:

Let Kalo's comments go. He focusses on one part of what you said and will change your words around and edit to suit his argument. Everyone here knows that you meant.

Posted by: Blurred | September 3, 2009 3:50 PM

But I agree with Kalo's comment about defense completely.

Posted by: Blurred | September 3, 2009 3:51 PM

"He focusses on one part of what you said and will change your words around and edit to suit his argument."

Really? And how did I "change his words"? I quoted exactly what he said.

"Everyone here knows that you meant."

Yes they do. They know he was trying to establish a correlation between the Wizards ability to score points (" if you add up and average the ppg for each of our top 7 or 8 players over the last few years, we're probably up there at or near the top in the league. Gil, Cb, AJ, MM, Foye, BTH, AB will be able to score with the best of them. ") and their chances to win a title. Problem is, absolutely no such correlation exists.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 4:04 PM

They know he was trying to establish a correlation between the Wizards ability to score points ... and their chances to win a title. Problem is, absolutely no such correlation exists.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 4:04 PM

Tell that to Golden State.

Posted by: djnnnou | September 3, 2009 4:11 PM

Thanks, Blurred. I'll do that.
I was starting to thing I was crazy. :)

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:25 PM

Until we win a title with defense, no correlation exists between us doing that and winning a title either.
The fact remains, however, that this Wiz teams' success hinges on us being able to score a lot of points and not on our ability to lock down on defense due to the personnel that we have. We simply dont have enough defensive minded players and we're better suited to playing an uptempo game.
I'll repeat...until we start playing games, there's no correlation to be made in ANY case. New team, new year.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:29 PM

Golden State won a championship?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 3, 2009 4:29 PM

IMO,

Good Wiz offense + Par Wiz defense = 2nd round

Good Wiz offense + SubPar Wiz defense = first round exit

Par Wiz offense + Par Wiz defense = 10th seed

Par Wiz offense + SubPar defense = lottery

Good Wiz defense + whatever = {empty set}

We can't play good defense with the current squad.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:33 PM

I should have said ...

Good Wiz offense + Par Wiz defense = 2nd round OR MORE

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:35 PM

"Until we win a title with defense, no correlation exists between us doing that and winning a title either."

Nice try. (Not really, but I was in a giving mood.)

That is, of course, ridiculous. The correlation between defense and titles has been established over the course of several decades by the many teams who won titles by playing defense. And the lack of correlation between being able to light up the scoreboard like a pinball machine and winning a title 9or even regular season games, for that matter) has been established during that same period by all of the high-scoring teams that racked up points with nothing to show for it at the end of the season.

Teams like . . . the Golden State Warriors. Or the Denver Nuggets. Or the Sacramento Kings. Or, for that matter, the Washington Wizards.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 4:37 PM

"I'll repeat...until we start playing games, there's no correlation to be made in ANY case."

Then why are you jumping through flaming hoops trying to make one?

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 4:38 PM

also,

Par Wiz offense + SubPar defense = lottery

should read

Par Wiz offense + SubPar defense = bottom 3

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:39 PM

"Tell that to Golden State."

If Nellie hasn't figured it out by now, he never will.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 4:39 PM

The same flaming hoops you just went through trying to dispute my point?

No hoops here. Just trying to open minds to the possibility of us doing great things this year. I don't like the idea of being satisfied with getting back to the playoffs. Just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean it can't be done.


Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:41 PM

Ernie sure has the ammo to make another deal. I'd agree he's going to wait for two reasons, he wants to see how things shake out with his own team, and he's waiting to see who falls out of contention by the deadline.

His history has been to let things playout and see how his team does during the season. But he did strike last year and made a very good in season deal to get Crittenton.

In a way how the Shaq experiment in Cleveland could have an effect on who's available at the break. If things go well in Cleveland, Lebron may be look like he could resign there. If that move blows up in the Cav's face, Lebron could be making his "I love NY" noises and the Nets and the Knicks could be tripping over each other to dump salaries for next summer.

Flip is a hungry coach,if he took this team to the Conference Finals this year everyone would have to admit people around here would be pretty happy for that kind of turn around.

But I don't think Flip came here to be an also ran, of available coaches this spring he was the one with a proven track record
that includes everything but a title. I think he picked the Wizards as the team in the best position to do that of the places looking for a coach.

Ahh, the defense discussion again. When MJ was carrying the Bulls on his back in the early years, he didn't play a lick of D. Not hardly a player alive that has to be relied on to play heavy minutes, and to be a scorer for his team to win, that has the conditioning to be a lockdown defender.

Even when MJ was playing at an NBA All Defender level he coasted a lot on D. MJ learned to turn up the D in spurts. And the depth of the team around him allowed him to score without working as hard. The Bulls had other options which allowed MJ to cruise more on offense too.

Having more offensive firepower and depth can be the key to improving team defense. All of the crapload of stuff people have to say about Jamison this summer is the same bull they were saying about Gil's play before the injury. Truth is, they were both carrying a heavy load on offense which effects their overall play

If the Wizards'defense improves this year it could have to do with the improved depth and offensive options. It's easier to play D when you're not relied on to carry a heavy portion of the scoring load. Everybody should have the ability to play a more rounded game.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | September 3, 2009 4:43 PM

"The same flaming hoops you just went through trying to dispute my point?"

Trust me, no hoops, no flames, and not even any real jumping was required for that task. Pretty light work, actually.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 4:43 PM

"Just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean it can't be done."

The fact that multiple teams try it year after year after year with no success does mean that the odds of the Wizards doing are quite small.

Posted by: kalo_rama | September 3, 2009 4:45 PM

I think you missed the 'WE' and the 'US'.

Until we win a title with defense, no correlation exists between us doing that and winning a title either.

Every team is different. Even teams that win with defense win DIFFERENTLY with defense. The old Pistons were stifling and kept the scores low. The Lakers gave up 91 ppg to the Magic this year in the 5 games and won. We don't need to lock teams down. We just need to be respectable. Guarding the 3 point line would be a good start.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:48 PM

The fact that multiple teams try it year after year after year with no success does mean that the odds of the Wizards doing are quite small.

Multiple teams with 3 recent all stars and a solid coach and bench?

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:49 PM

I'm being optimistic...mainly because I renewed my tickets this year.

Please allow me to hope.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:51 PM

Kal, in a giving mood...

That had to be an attempt at humor.

O'Mark, this team can improve on D if the offensive output is more balanced.

That doesn't mean that I don't think they won't beat teams by out scoring them with their offensive firepower.

This team will be good enough on O that a few well timed stops will be able to swing a lot of games.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | September 3, 2009 4:51 PM

Thanks for allowing me to bow out of this, GM. I'll accept that as the final word on this topic.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 4:54 PM

1975: Warriors beat our 60 win Washington Bullets

Posted by: Blurred | September 3, 2009 4:56 PM

As much as I love the trade we pulled off earlier this year, I'm a little disappointed our rotation is so deep that Foye won't be given room to flourish. Sure, he could put in 11-12 points a game if we slot him as a combo guard, backing up the PG and SG, but given a bigger role (see Butler in his first season in Washington), he could put up 15-16 points per night, assuming he picks up where he left off with the T-Wolves. I think Miller or Deshawn will ultimately be the starting 2-guard and since Foye is more score-first than pass-first and considering we've got so many offensive options, I think Critt will get more minutes than people expect.

Posted by: tdavelfresco | September 3, 2009 5:27 PM

^ to add to what I said, he's also a solid defender who "enjoys playing defense", according to the man himself, and if he's given less minutes than worthy of, his level of play might drop.

Posted by: tdavelfresco | September 3, 2009 5:28 PM

I just don't see where Miller has been brought in to be a starter. I really think he's been brought on board to provide instant offense off the bench.

Ernie's had a great track record over the years of identifying and managing to trade for guys "before" they are Allstars. Since Foye is still a restricted FA next summer, I think he's in the longterm plans.

I like DeShawn, but I don't think he's anywhere near the player that Foye is. I just think that Foye's going to really bloom running beside Arenas much like Larry Hughes had his best years when running with Gil.

And I'd agree, Crittenton is getting more minutes then many think.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | September 3, 2009 5:44 PM

I thought the same until I looked at Miller's rebounding numbers, GM. He could actually be one of the missing pieces to the puzzle. We need a guard who can help out on the boards since our C is average and our PF is undersized. We also need a guy who can hit an open 3. Miller fits the bill. On the second team, he's a little easier to defend because he'd be a primary scoring option.
Starting him also pushes CB back to his more natural sf position.

We'll see what happens but I'd be surprised if MM is not starting on day 1.

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 5:59 PM

BEST COMMENT OF THE YEAR:

Let Kalo's comments go. He focusses on one part of what you said and will change your words around and edit to suit his argument. Everyone here knows that you meant.

---
Yes! Well articulated. So, now, Kalo_argument, please just knock it off. You argue every single word of every single comment and use italics to disect and warp it all just to puff out your chest and create false confrontations when everyone's saying similar things, and it's tiring and boring. So... just... try... being... cool. Seriously, you warp comments to create false fights more than a 14 year old girl. And the italics are silly. We're all in the same gang here, man. Go Bullets!

Posted by: Urnesto | September 3, 2009 6:04 PM

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 6:18 PM

(...nodding in silent agreement)

Posted by: original_mark | September 3, 2009 6:19 PM

O'Mark, That's one reason why I thought it could be smart to move Jamison to the second unit. A double barreled scoring attack on the second unit.

I also like the idea of pairing Haywood and either Blatche or McGee in the starting lineup and having Jamison come off the bench with who ever's not starting. I think Blatche is well aware that Oberto's not coming to Washinton with the thought in mind of sitting.

Blatche is going to be pushed by both Oberto and McGee to step up. Oberto is plenty able to start at the 4 too.

I'd love to sit down with Micheal and have a talk about veteran depth and the role of a 6th man. His reasoning that Jamison HAS to start because he's better then Blatche doesn't hold water.

First Blatche isn't the only option, there's Oberto and McGee. Oberto can bring defense and rebounding. McGee has an unlimited upside and at this point might be better suited to get minutes at the 4 instead of the 5.

I still don't think we've seen the best of Blatche, but he could find himself backing up Haywood instead of playing at the 4. I keep calling for him to get minutes at the 4, but he may really have to fight for them.

Second, saying Jamison has to start because he's better then the alternative completely misses the whole idea of the role of a "6th" man. Using that line of thinking you would be saying the Ed Pinckney was a better player then Robert Parrish or Kevin McHale.

The 6th man is generally the team's second or third best player. Jamison fits that role exactly. His veteran play could help who ever is the 5 on the second unit, and he'd probably be the first scoring option as well.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | September 3, 2009 6:35 PM

GM

Considering the melt down Flip had with the vets in Detroit, I don’t see him telling AJ he is coming off the bench this year.

Ernie didn’t trade the 5th pick so Foye and Miller would sit either. The way things are shaping up I see Gil, Foye, CB, Gil, and BH starting with Miller being the 6th man. I would prefer to see Critt getting solid mins in the guard rotation which means NY is the odd man out.

Ernie track record in the draft has been a D- that’s why I think he trades AB, NY and MJ’s contract for a vet big man before the trade deadline.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 3, 2009 6:53 PM

Trade I'd love to see...


Mike James, Stevenson, Veremeenko, 2010 1st round pick to Pacers for Troy Murphy.

Posted by: Darnell1 | September 3, 2009 6:55 PM

Mike,

Any updates on Veremeenko? Any chance he is on the opening day roster this year??

Posted by: Darnell1 | September 3, 2009 6:58 PM

In the past, anyway, there usually has not been a second unit that completely replaces the first. Usually there is a mixture of first and second teamers on the floor as the game goes on.

If Jamison is not going to start, then I would not start Critt at PG. Starting Jamison does at least provide one more potential three point shooter for Gil to kick it out to on the starting unit. This has worked fairly well in the past.

Posted by: cannontl | September 3, 2009 7:05 PM

Just saw Rockets signed Pops... he was someone I was hoping we'd bring in. Another guy I'd be interested in is Cedric Simmons.

Posted by: Darnell1 | September 3, 2009 7:09 PM

His reasoning that Jamison HAS to start because he's better then Blatche doesn't hold water.

Jamison is the only guy that can pull an opposing big away from the paint. Without him you'll have a finesse team turn into a strictly jump shooting team.

Posted by: djnnnou | September 3, 2009 7:20 PM

I just saw someone said they would give EG a D- for his drafts...

PLEASE EXPLAIN THAT TO ME.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 3, 2009 8:55 PM

SDMDTSU,

The Wizards roster this year....

Gil Free Agent
Foye Trade
CB Trade
AJ Trade
BH Trade
MM Trade
DS Free agent
Critt Trade
Oberto Free Agent
MJ Trade

Out of 14 players there are only 4 draft picks and none of them come close to being a starter

AB Head case
JM Still undecided
NY the reason they traded for Foye
DM This guy won't make it off the bench

To me that is a D-, if two of these guys step up and play some real mins this year, then I will rasie the grade.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 3, 2009 11:53 PM

His reasoning that Jamison HAS to start because he's better then Blatche doesn't hold water.

Jamison is the only guy that can pull an opposing big away from the paint. Without him you'll have a finesse team turn into a strictly jump shooting team.

Posted by: djnnnou | September 3, 2009 7:20 PM
______

We are not already basically a jump shooting, run-in-gun team? Jamison out of the starting lineup will not change our style whatsoever and nobody that would start in his place would change that dynamic.

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 3, 2009 11:59 PM

Pretty much every player in the NBA has the ability to play defense. A lot of them simply decide not to. And I seem to recall that Stevenson, McGuire, Butler, Haywood, and Blatche all spent more than a minute playing for Jordan.

All of which is to say that it's not just the coach. Can Flip coach defense? Sure. But I'm not under the impression that Jordan can't. But you can only teach to those willing to learn.
Kal
_______

All of which is to say that it has a lot to do with the coach. If all or most players have the ability to play defense and simply play zero defense under a certain coach (dead last or near dead last in certain defensive categories consistently), the logic suggests that maybe is was the coach to a certain degree. Do you think if Pat Riley was coach we wouldn't be a better defensive team with the same cast of characters? Come on. Now, this team is not built to be the Pistons, but we sure as hell can be much better than we have been and I think we will be this season.

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 4, 2009 12:05 AM

If you are not under that impression that Jordan can't coach defense, then you're hopeless. What has he ever done in his coaching career that suggests he can? The answer: nothing.

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 4, 2009 12:17 AM

The Wizards roster this year....

Gil Free Agent
Foye Trade
CB Trade
AJ Trade
BH Trade
MM Trade
DS Free agent
Critt Trade
Oberto Free Agent
MJ Trade

Out of 14 players there are only 4 draft picks and none of them come close to being a starter

AB Head case
JM Still undecided
NY the reason they traded for Foye
DM This guy won't make it off the bench

To me that is a D-, if two of these guys step up and play some real mins this year, then I will rasie the grade.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 3, 2009 11:53 PM
____

One step forward and five steps backwards.

Didn't we get MM and RF instead of our draft pick this year? A former ROY/SMOY and a former 5th pick for this seasons 5th pick? Does that not count in your mind? Don't even answer that question. NY and JM are late first round gems still. JM might end up being the steal of his draft in a couple of years. DM and AB were middle to late second rounders. Miracle they are even on the roster still and expected to do anything. Much less be a possible wild card to a championship run in AB. Until he blows a high draft pick, you can take your D- and stuff it!

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 4, 2009 12:47 AM

Until he blows a high draft pick, you can take your D- and stuff it!

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 4, 2009 12:47 AM

rphilli721

Explain to me who Ernie has drafted that gives him a better grade than a D-?

The guys you are talking about plus 2 all stars got this team 19 wins last year!

I didn't even mention OP and the other draft picks that aren't on the roster.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 4, 2009 1:10 AM

So what GM do you give a "passing" grade?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 2:23 AM

I gotta question for Michael.

With Randy Foye, Mike Miller & Brendan Haywood becoming free agents at the end of the 09-10 season, will the Wizards be able to retain all three of them?

And if not, what does it say about the decision to trade for two guys entering their contract years?

Posted by: Dat2U | September 4, 2009 6:23 AM

I saw Pops on a plane flight to NY a few weeks ago and the dude is huge and cut. When I saw him I was wondering how in the heck he wasnt signed by someone. I'm sure he can provide a rebounding spark off the bench. Good for him.

Posted by: original_mark | September 4, 2009 6:59 AM

I just gave a listing of his picks and they are all very solid. Pech, yeah sure. Another late first rounder. So, he doesn't bat 1.000. You got a GM to name that does? Even Dumars in Detroit, widely considered a top notch personnel man, drafted Darko instead of Melo or Wade - I belive with the 3rd pick in that draft. Fact remains, he has drafted about as well as possible so far with the picks he's had. D- is absurd along with your analysis.

Bringing up last seasons record really has
nothing to do with his drafting and everything to do with injuries.

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 4, 2009 7:34 AM

We might be able to re-sign Foye, Miller, and Haywood on the cheap.

With the luxury tax and the salary cap both expected to decrease next year, our players are likely to get squeezed. The big names will get paid, despite the decreases, and lower level players can always be signed with midlevel and biannual exceptions. The players who are worth more than the midlevel but who are not big time stars are the ones most likely to have to settle for less-- Foye, Miller, and Haywood are all in this category. The downside is that in order to lock in the low prices that will be available next off-season, Pollin has to be willing to pay the luxury tax again.

Posted by: yop32 | September 4, 2009 7:40 AM

Foye's a restricted FA, so he's not going anywhere next summer.

Miller's not going to get another deal for 9m+, he'll probably be worth something closer to the MLE next summer. He could be resigned, traded in a sign and trade,or packaged in a deal this season, or allowed to walk to create space for another player.

And Miller brings that element of being a knockdown three baller to this team which was badly needed right now. Depending on how he blends in, Grunfeld can always figure out a way to deal with him next summer.

Darnell, The Pacers are very much a team that could be a trading partner for the Wiz. Apparently they're bleeding money big time, Bird's under pressure to cut payroll.

Somebody mentioned New Orleans yesterday, there's another team that has an attractive player and is under finacial stress and needs to shed some contracts.

And then there's NY and David Lee, that's quite a dance they're trying with him, I say they're going to be willing to trade him for an expiring contract and a young cheap asset(Young? Blatche?).

I think they're still trying to package him with Jeffries to get that deal off the books next summer too. The Wiz have enough expiring contracts to make a Jeffries & Lee deal work. But would gaining Lee be worth taking on Jeffries? McGuire's almost the same player at a fraction of the cost.

I still think Grunfeld and Flip believe they can help Blatche mature into an effective contributor. I'd say they're going to let things play out a while and see what they've got.

McGee could be that rebounding, hustle, run the court 4 that you could throw in the mix with Jamison. He could bring everything to the party that Sideshow Bob does for Cleveland at the 4. That's what Cleveland wanted to do last year, grab Jamison and pair with the flopper at the 4.

If it shakes out that way in camp then the need could be more for another center instead of a power forward.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | September 4, 2009 8:04 AM

Since EG has been with the Wiz he has done more with trades (of players or draft picks) than through the draft.

Mostly his draft picks have been late first rounders and second round picks. These are always a crapshoot. And you could say that if you get anything out of a second round pick you are doing well.

But the argument could be that after several drafts (of late first rounders and second round picks), a good GM should probably find 1 or 2 solid NBA players.

This has not been the case so far, although McGee may end up being a pretty good player - but this still remains to be seen. McGuire started last year and is a pretty good find for a second round pick, but I would not consider him a solid NBA player yet.

Young and Blatche could end up being decent NBA players but have not shown this so far and are still part knucklehead.

Still a D- grade seems way too low. I would give him a C+ that could go higher with the development of McGee and some of the other younger players.

Posted by: cannontl | September 4, 2009 8:23 AM

yop32, I'm pretty sure BTH isn't going to be cheap. I think he realizes how much his defensive presence means to us as a team and he's going to expect (and get) at least 8, 9 million per year from us.
If I was his agent, I'd be asking for 10 and I'm sure some team out there would pay it. There just arent that many traditional legitimately 7 foot big men out there that know how to lay the game.
It'll definitely be interesting to see how that plays out but unless JM or AB step up defensively, BTH is getting paid....somewhere.

Posted by: original_mark | September 4, 2009 8:28 AM

i don't mean to sound like Kalo here, but I think its what you do with your draft picks that matters, not who you draft. So if you trade a crapshoot pick in a very poor draft (ie: the 5th pick this past year) as part of a deal that dumps an albatross contract as well for two potential starters, you should get an A+ for that year.

If you pick up a 20 yr old 7 footer (who is still growing) that works hard and has the athletic ability of the top 5% of the league with a mid/late 1st round pick and he is showing steady improvement, you get a B+ at worst.

The jury is still out on Nick Young. At worst he is going to be good trade bait, but I think he has a long NBA career ahead of him and hopefully can fill in nicely this year or next. Add DM to this draft and I say you get a B at worst, but this could go to A or down to C+ depending on NY development this year. the only guys I see that were available at 17 that may have been better were Glen Davis and Marc Gasol and maybe jamereo, but all those could be disputed.

lets give 2006 a D or maybe an F for Pech and Vermeenko. Who knows, maybe Vermeenko joins us someday and is that missing piece, but I doubt it. (although he is just 25)

Posted by: Blurred | September 4, 2009 8:49 AM

One of the problems evaluating Grunfeld's drafts is the fact that last year was such a throwaway year.

If Young and Blatche don't step up this year, then it would be fair to call them busts.

Grunfeld could have hit the lottery with McGee, he's got a ways to go, but the kid's got an upside. First couple of games during summer league he looked just ok. Last two it was like a light went on, he really outplayed Griffin and then turned around and had another gem of a game.

USA Basketball was apparently as impressed as I was and gave him an invitation. If any one of these guys becomes a starter in this season or next, the grades got to go up.

Jamison, Foye, & Miller all came in trades for two #5 picks that also allowed Grunfeld to dump players he no longer needed. In my book both #5 picks brought in a starter and one's been to the allstar game. Not bad work.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | September 4, 2009 8:50 AM

I really want to see what 78 has to say about what GM gets a passing grade.

Blatche was a 2nd round pick...so for him to be in the rotation 4 years later and show steady improvement. It's a win, D-Mac as well. To get someone to start and play fairly well as a 2nd round pick is a win. People are hollering they want Blatche to start...but then deny he was a good pick? At like 59 or something I think?

And I agree it's not about the picks...it's what you do with them. Boston flipped picks into KG and Ray Allen. Won a championship...but who did THEY DRAFT that is solidly in the rotation? Glen Davis? Tony Allen? Do they fail too? We have Critt, Young, Foye, McGee, D-Mac, Blatche ALL 24 OR YOUNGER. Foye is 25 and Gil is 27. The team is still young and has a chance to still win while grooming the younger players.

Go look at these 2nd round picks and see who is in the league let alone in the drafting teams rotation.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 9:03 AM

You guys need to really need to examine the definition of a bust. LOL

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 9:08 AM

2005 - getting Blatche with a 49th pick is pretty good work. He is better than half of the guys drafted above him (hakim Warrick? Joey graham? Martell Webster?Johan Petro?) So give this an A+ for effort and maybe a B+ for results.

2004 - traded the #5 pick for an allstar. this would normally be givin an A easy, but this was a super solid draft, so maybe a B is sufficient here. I was going to knock him down a bit for PJ Ramos, but there wasn't much left by then except Chalmers, Duhon and Ivey, so I think he made a decent gamble there.

2003 - I don't know how much input he had for this draft or if he was even around in time for the draft, but this one we get a D.

So, this adds up to a solid B to B+ in my book. Add in the non-draft folks he picked up in FA and through other trades and I give him a B+. If we can make it to conference finals, he gets an A.

Posted by: Blurred | September 4, 2009 9:13 AM

The league is projecting that revenues, and therefore the salary cap and luxury tax, will shrink by around 10% next year. Teams that made their plans based on the assumption of big annual increases will have much less money to spend. For example, teams that before the recession were expecting to have cap space to bring in a max free agent might instead only be able to offer the midlevel exception. A lot of players who were expecting to get a million or three more than the MLE will instead only get MLE offers. If Pollin is willing to beat those offers by even a little, our FAs will re-sign here. The summer of 2010 is going to be a fantastic time to re-sign second tier free agents.

Posted by: yop32 | September 4, 2009 9:28 AM

If the Wiz make it to the conference finals or - God willing - the finals, there is going to be a huge market for Miller and Haywood, as long as they play solid minutes (ie - no injuries) since they will be seen as "missing pieces."

If we have a first or second round exit, there will be some competition for them, but MLE + will probably be good enough for Miller and MLE ++ for Haywood.

If we don't make the playoffs, there will be virtually no market for Miller and haywood will likely get a MLE contract, as they will be seen as not really adding value.

Of course, if one of them scores 25+ ppg and and gets 10+ boards, then they will have a market regardless. But seriously, what are the odds of that?

Posted by: Blurred | September 4, 2009 9:34 AM

The thing about Blatche is he can never seem to hold a consistent spot in the rotation for the whole year. If he can do that and improve his stats some more, I would consider him a great success for being a second round pick.

If doesn't do it this year, I am not sure he ever will.

Posted by: cannontl | September 4, 2009 9:46 AM

Draft grades are a group effort. Identifying talented players is just part of the job, the rest falls to the coaching staff to cultivate that talent. Who knows how much of the blame lies with EG vs. EJ/Taps/etc.?

Maybe the right strategy would have been to ignore potential and instead draft more polished players with limited upside-- guys like Hansbrough this year.

Posted by: yop32 | September 4, 2009 9:47 AM

The thing about Blatche is he can never seem to hold a consistent spot in the rotation for the whole year. If he can do that and improve his stats some more, I would consider him a great success for being a second round pick.

If doesn't do it this year, I am not sure he ever will.

He's still like 22 years old. Every year he's improved. He's not an all-star yet and may never be...but did you expect him to be one when he came? Seriously?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 10:01 AM

Unless Blatche can become a useful, dependable NBA player for the Wiz, he is just holding a roster spot.

I hope he is successful, but the more years that go by that he isn't, the less likely I think it will happen.

Posted by: cannontl | September 4, 2009 10:37 AM

He averaged 10/5 and a block last year. Every year he's gotten better. Brendan averages 9 and 7 for his career. I know they aren't the same caliber player...but weren't people ready to dump Haywood a couple years ago?

I think expectations get too high sometimes. He was drafted as a project and all of a sudden you want him to be Kevin Garnett? He was basically our best shot blocker last season, and when Brendan is there the 2nd best shot blocker and third best rebounder...he's 22. Let him play.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 10:59 AM

To elaborate a little more, Blatche has not shown me yet that he has the will, hard work and discipline to break through in the NBA.

He is still young and maybe that should give him the benefit of the doubt, but there have been a lot of players with skill that never seem to really make it, because they never developed the attributes I mentioned above.

Posted by: cannontl | September 4, 2009 11:02 AM

SMDTSU, I never said anything about Blatche having to be Kevin Garnett or an All Star to be what I would call a useful member of the Wiz. You have to read (apparently carefully) what I wrote and not what you want to put into it.

(Is this why Kal has so many problems?)

Posted by: cannontl | September 4, 2009 11:10 AM

I was speaking to everyone in general, You just happened to be included. A useful player gets 10 and 5 and a block or two. What do you consider useful?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 11:25 AM

To those of you arguing about what grade to hand EG for his draft picks...here, have a look 'n see.

- Devin Harris (traded w/Stack to Dallas for Jamison)
- Selected Peter John Ramos in 2nd round.
- Selected O.Pecherov in 1st round
- Selected Veremeenko in 2nd round
- Selected Nick Young in 1st round
- Selected Dominic McGuire in 2nd round
- Selected McGee in 1st round
- Selected/Traded Bill Walker for Cash
- Traded 5th pick + Fillers for Foye/Miller combo

I don't agree with D- but he's not way off. A fair assessment would be a C here. No more, No less so ya, I don't see how Bulletsfan78 is being too unfair here.

Posted by: Bullzards80 | September 4, 2009 11:31 AM

What I meant by useful: He needs to play well enough for a coach to want to give him consistent minutes in the rotation for the whole season.

Actually, I see your point about his youth and gradual improvement, and I hope he breaks through this year. If not, maybe it will be McGee.

Posted by: cannontl | September 4, 2009 11:35 AM

One of Blatche's problems has been those games where he just tantilizes fans with the talent. His first game under Tapps he broke out with a monster game. That's where the "If he applies himself, he could be the next Garnett" posts start up.

Progress has been slow, but he's spent a lot of time playing center the last two years, which isn't his strong suit. Haywood's back, and Oberto is here instead of Thomas for depth. McGee will be ahead of Blatche at center unless the coaching staff likes McGee at the 4.

If Blatche developes into a solid rotation player, that's a darned good second round pick. The guy had maturity issues in High School, so I'm really not surprised his development has been a little up and down.

But he's 22, he'd be a rookie if he'd have gone to college and stayed 4 years. He lost that first year to the gunshot wound. So the slow development might not really be that slow when the fact that he came straight to the NBA from HS.

In the case of most of those guys, the first 2-3 yrs have been pretty much throw away years, with a high percentage flaming out. That's why the rule was changed, NBA coaches don't have the time to baby sit.

But Blatche has made it through the Flameout Years, what he does from here forward is what he should really should be judged on. Just consider that Ernie decided to pay him while he got his education. Now it's time to see if there's a return on the investment.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | September 4, 2009 11:50 AM

Yes, let's hope there is a return on investment this year, because we need it.

I really think how far the Wiz go this year in the playoffs may depend on the development of Blatche and McGee.

Posted by: cannontl | September 4, 2009 11:58 AM

I said this last year but I'm going to say it again. This is the 'make it or break it' year for Blatche on this team. Consider him gone after this one should he pull another subpar season.

Posted by: Bullzards80 | September 4, 2009 12:05 PM

Yes, being a GM means sometimes trading a draft pick for a player you need, but....

My grade was based on Ernie's draft picks only.

It does matter that there were injuries last year because that gave the young guys playing time that they normally wouldn’t have gotten. What were the results? 19 wins!

I give Ernie a C overall and that’s because this team hasn’t made it past the 1st round. I prefer to grade on results not what I hope they do in the future.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 4, 2009 12:08 PM

D- for EG's drafts? Seriously? That is not only off, it is WAY off. And it frustrates me. It is SO easy to say "he should have picked better." But really, you can only say this if (a) a player picked fails miserably; AND (b) there are a ton of better players picked later.

You can't simply judge who a GM has drafted. You must judge who he drafted relative to who was available. Let's take a look:

2004: The 5th pick traded to bring us Jamison and start the turnaround. Peter John Ramos picked in the second round, a late gamble on a big. But note: none of the bigs selected after Ramos are in the league, either. If he had panned out, was worth a shot.

2005 Blatche, with the 49th pick (2nd round). This was (and is) a PHENOMENAL pick. Maybe the best pick, by any GM, in the draft. Is Blatche a phenomenal player. Of course not. Will he ever be? Hard to tell, looks like not a phenomenal player, but he is serviceable, and still only 23.

Here's my point though. Look at the players drafted in 05. Already (with no improvement), Blatche is arguably one of the top 20 players picked.

Many of the guys picked in the 2nd round aren't even in the league. AB has frustrated us all with his immaturity (shown in his on-again, off-again effort). But he has also shown flashes of brilliant play. The fans never seemed to get frustrated with OPech because we never saw flashes (sometimes game long flashes) of talent that made us long for more. With AB, he has just turned 23, and none of us were professionally mature at 23. Further, (go ahead and argue Kal, I ignore every post you make now because you are just here to argue) Jermaine O'Neal---a straight from high school big man---didn't turn the corner until his 5th year. If AB matures and simply becomes a LITTLE more consistent, I'll say this: there are fewer than 10 guys IN THE ENTIRE DRAFT that I'd rather have than AB. Of course, his becoming more consistent is a huge if, but still.

Picking a guy who can play in the top 5 or 6 picks is easy. Picking someone who can contribute at 49 is brutally hard. So if AB never improves any further, he was still worth the 49th pick. If he does (and he still DOES have great upside), he will have been the steal of the draft if not of several drafts.

And 78, will you tell me who you would have taken instead? Even in retrospect, Gortat is the only big you'd even consider who was taken after AB---and I'd rather have Blatche.

2006 In the next post.

Posted by: psdfx | September 4, 2009 12:49 PM

Well...drafting is about the future. If not, two of the guys EG drafted were regular rotation players averaging double digits. Can they get better? Sure. Did they win a lot? No. They aren't ready to be full-time starters. That's not the role they are ready for. Pech you can call a miss Peter John Ramos was a miss, Veeremenko is an incomplete. Everyone else contributes on the team NOW. Jamison included. Foye and Miller are pieces for this year. Show me a GM with a better record. (I'm sure they exist...I just don't wanna do the research.)

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 1:15 PM

2006 OPech. EG wanted a big, and to get a big late, you have to gamble. But EG didn't miss on a big he SHOULD have taken. EG didn't miss on any excellent player taken later. MAYBE Paul Millsap (that every other team underestimated too--he didn't go until late in the drat). Josh Boone? Probably better, but not setting the world on fire. There just aren't many bigs who were drafted later than OPech who make that gamble look horrible.

Round 2: Veremeenko. See above. Gamble, but EG didn't miss on guys drafted later that he should have taken. If nobody is there to draft, you cannot criticize who EG did take.

Still two gambles that didn't pay off (but no significant misses).

2007 We miss out on Stuckey right before us, and Thaddeus Young (who we were reportedly high on). So 78, please tell us, if EG gets a D-, who should he have taken instead? Belinelli? Critt (EG got him anyway)? Maybe Rudy Fernandez, but the list ends there (and Fernandez isn't necessarily a given). Regardless, this is not a D- pick. More like a B pick.

In the second round, DMac is a find. There are a few other 2nd rounders from 07 who are decent, but a ton of guys out of the league. We needed more help at the 3 than at 5 at that point, so Marc Gasol was not really an option. Other than Sessions (a PG), there really aren't any other guys who went later who are worth anything. DMac is NOT a D- pick.

2008 McGee was a TREMENDOUS pick. Again, to get a big as late as we drafted McGee, you must gamble. And I think all of us feel that McGee has just scratched the surface of his potential. I'd rather have McGee than Hibbert, Speights, Robin Lopez, and even Anthony Randolph (despite his promise). In fact, I can only find 3 or 4 players in the ENTIRE draft that I'd clear rather have than JM. When he was drafted, people on this board immediately (the next day) called him "JaBust." Strangely, those people have all disappeared. I don't recall Hibbert or Lopez being invited to the USA Basketball training camp. This was a great pick, and NObody who plays inside was drafted behind him who has JM's potential. This was an A pick, hands down.

78, who would you have drafted other than McGee?

Bill Walker was sold to Boston. He is a marginal prospect. Has anyone drafted after Walker distinguished himself yet? No.

2009 This year's pick turned into one player with HUGE upside, and a phenomenal outside shooter (a one-trick pony, but the one trick we have really been missing, a spot up shooter). PLUS we got rid of some bad contracts.

This would be D- drafting---IF there were dozens (or even a clear handful) of guys that EG SHOULD have drafted but didn't. Of all the picks I've reviewed, the only clear do-over I think I'd like is Rudy Fernandez over NY--but even that is debatable...

Posted by: psdfx | September 4, 2009 1:15 PM

psdfx,

I don't care if the player is a 1st or 2nd round pick. My grading was based on out of the 14 players on the roster only 4 are his draft picks and they all are the (waiting to see if they play to their potential) players. If you would like I will give Ernie an I and in 2 years we will see what grade he deserves.

Until one of the players he has drafted steps up how can you give him a better grade?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 4, 2009 1:22 PM

Keep in mind with Pech and Veeremenko...the roster was full so they wanted international guys to stash for a year or so when they could come over.

It didn't work. EG adjusted and we came out with 2 players that will actually play.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 1:24 PM

How can you possibly say it doesn't matter where someone was picked? So a missed Kwame Brown or Darko pick is the same a last pick of the 2nd round pick?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 1:36 PM

Until one of the players he has drafted steps up how can you give him a better grade?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 4, 2009 1:22 PM

Simply because you can't give ANY General Manager a bad grade for drafting a mediocre (or worse) player if there were no other options available for him to take.

Posted by: psdfx | September 4, 2009 1:41 PM

The GM of the Spurs, RC Buford, is one of the best judges of basketball talent on the planet. He was their lead scout when the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Luis Scola (back when Popovich was both coach and GM). But by 78'er's criteria, the Spurs' drafts since he took over as GM have all been failures.

Posted by: yop32 | September 4, 2009 2:25 PM

The GM of the Spurs, RC Buford, is one of the best judges of basketball talent on the planet. He was their lead scout when the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Luis Scola (back when Popovich was both coach and GM). But by 78'er's criteria, the Spurs' drafts since he took over as GM have all been failures.

Agreed. That was the first team I went and looked at. The Duncan pick changed EVERYTHING. They had 2 hall of fame 7 footers and could take high risk/high reward players like Ginobili and Parker and it paid off.

Before Duncan? not so much...after Duncan? Eh...not so much either.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | September 4, 2009 2:50 PM

lol...you guys are reasoning with the unreasonable. No rational person would give EG a D- for draft picks or otherwise. The man has turned a annual league doormat into a possible contender and still there are haters. Like they say, it takes all types to make the world go around.

As far as the there are only 4 players still on the team he drafted theory, who cares? What does that matter? There are way to many factors for that to be some bottom line ad hoc criteria. Alas, you conveniently leave out Jamison, Foye, and Miller who represent draft picks as opposed to free agents. So, even by your lamest of criteria, that would be 7 players.

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 4, 2009 4:21 PM

My grading was based on out of the 14 players on the roster only 4 are his draft picks and they all are the (waiting to see if they play to their potential) players. If you would like I will give Ernie an I and in 2 years we will see what grade he deserves.

Until one of the players he has drafted steps up how can you give him a better grade?
Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 4, 2009 1:22 PM

I know you keep discounting picks that were traded and just focus on the draft picks that are kept around. but that simply doesn't result in an accurate assessment of a GM. Drafting is far too integrated with all the other elements of building a team that you can't separate it from everything else.

So far, I like this team's balance. we have enough veterans to be competitive, and enough youth that we won't crumble in a few years.

Posted by: crs-one | September 6, 2009 11:33 AM

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