by: Brian Pavlic   4/24/2012

Wizards sign GM Ernie Grunfeld to an extension. 

WHACK. Ted Leonsis lands a kick to the groin of Wizards Nation. After the Monday night dismantling of the powerhouse Charlotte Bobcat squad, Ted thought it was the right time to drop the big news to all 18 Wizard fans: Ernie Grunfeld is back. Back as GM as of the Wizards. Back to try and crack the 30-win barrier. Back to chase down Vinnie Cerrato as DC’s most despised GM. Leonsis did grace us with a blog post explaining his decision. 

I’m pleased to announce that Ernie Grunfeld will remain as our GM and continue to lead our rebuilding efforts in partnership with me.

Rebuilding from………the awful state of affairs that Grunfeld engineered??? Anyway, “pleased” was an interesting choice of words, as the Wizard fanbase is not sharing the good vibes. The first Wiz fan I spoke to this morning answered the phone with “I’m so ****ing pissed.” Twitter didn’t respond much differently:

@StillUnknown85: I wish Ted would announce Grunfelds extension to the home crowd at a game so Grunfeld could get properly booed

@bryanhouston: How about Ernie Grunfeld of the Washington Wizards? What does a guy have to do to get fired?

@ CantJosh: If Ernie Grunfeld and Andray Blatche are both with the Wizards next season, I don’t even think Anthony Davis can save them

@gPilkertone: I kind of feel bad for Grunfeld. It’s like hitting a two-outer on the river. You’re happy & feel good for you but you know you don’t deserve it

@grosenstein: Signing Ernie Grunfeld to an extension is a slap in the face to all DC Sports fans. He’s done an awful job running the Wizards.

@IndoHoops: Must have something on the owner

@thomloverro: If true—Ernie Grunfeld returning as Wizards GM—fans should check shoes in the morning. Ted Leonsis left something in there for you. 

Like all of the employees at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Ernie’s performance is evaluated based on the strategy we jointly establish and his ability to execute that strategy.

Glad to know he’s being judged on the same scale as the maintenance guy. Then again, my guess is the maintenance guy could also assemble Wiz win totals of 19-26-23-18 over the past four years. Yes, we all know: Ernie was just following orders.

When we purchased the Wizards, I felt it was necessary to revamp and change the direction of the team; Ernie has led that charge and embraced our new philosophy.

Such change. His last significant move under Abe Pollin was trading the fifth pick in the draft (later used on Ricky Rubio) for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. His first significant move under Leonsis was to give Andray Blatche one of the most mind boggling contracts in the history of the team.

We have accumulated talented, young players and worked at developing them.

Developing players? Really? One friend has theory that Grunfeld hammered Leonsis with “Just wait until Javale McGee, Andray Blatche, and Nick Young break out.” Those were his guys. When they didn’t work out? He fired Flip. Then traded Javale and Nick. Then sent Blatche to Siberia. You can hear Grunfeld now: “Did you see Vesely last night? 8-8! Now about that extension...”

We have acquired veteran players who can help guide the younger players and just as importantly, help us win games.

Really? Slap in the face to all Wizard fans who asked for the past three years, “Shouldn’t we have some veteran presence in the locker room?” I suppose Leonsis was speaking to the March 2012 acquisition of Nene. What about the years prior? You know, when Javale/Blatche/Young were the veterans in the locker room, showing John Wall/Jordan Crawford/ Kevin Seraphin the ropes. I didn’t have any illusions of turning around the team with veterans, but how about a couple vets to help the young guys adapt to the league? Poor Mo Evans was the only guy speaking up.

We have a roster right now that features six first-round picks from the last two drafts. Under Ernie’s leadership we have almost completely turned over the Wizards roster.

Well, turned over the awful roster that Ernie was the architect behind. And should turnover really be considered Ernie’s strong suit? He’s that sentimental fantasy owner that holds on to his guy until he has no value. Do you realize Andray Blatche has been with the Wizards for seven years? SEVEN YEARS! Has to be a record for a player as dysfunctional as Blatche.

We are not only going to be in a position to add a lottery-pick player through the draft, but also because of the exceptional salary cap flexibility that Ernie has created, we will be able to be active in the free-agent market, if we so choose.

Deshawn Stevenson, 4 years, $20 million!  Just joking, but you can hear the trepidation in Leonsis’ voice. “If we so choose.” Since he took over, Leonsis has let Grunfeld hand out one significant contract/extension (Andray Blatche). Spending wasn’t in the plans and rightfully so, which is why it was fine to let Ernie finish off his contract. But now with an extension in hand and money to blow, Ernie Grunfeld is about to shape the next 5-10 years of your NBA life. Maybe Javale will get that $40 million contract in DC after all.

When I bought the Wizards I told you that we would be rebuilding and that was a process that would take time. I believe we have completed the first segment of that process and are poised to be a competitive team going forward. We have a strong nucleus of young players led by John Wall and veteran leadership from Nene.

We completely agree here, Ted. You were 100% correct that the team needed a total overhaul. Your straight forwardness about this was admirable and the team is on the brink of something (relatively) good, especially if the ping pong balls drop our way.

In addition, Ernie and his staff have created one of the most technologically advanced basketball operations departments in the NBA. We now are able to evaluate talent with a unique use of high-speed cameras and an innovative approach to statistics.

Love the stats. Thank you for embracing them. But don’t expect us to believe Ernie had anything to do with this. Not his cup of tea.

I give credit to Ernie for putting us in this position so quickly, but, like you, I now expect the Wizards to transition from a work-in-progress to a team that competes for a playoff spot.

Quickly? Given that we’re going to have to use our amnesty on Blatche instead of Rashard Lewis, I’d say we’re actually a little delayed.

Our fan appreciation night is coming up Thursday, and I want to share how much I have enjoyed the excitement and support our season-ticket holders have displayed – and it’s rubbing off. While we are actively renewing accounts, we also are securing new plan holders who have sampled our game and the Verizon Center experience. Thanks to our season-ticket holders for being such great ambassadors.
We continue to be in this together.

Ted, we are in this together. You’re our leader. You’ve done us well with the Caps, so you even have some political capital to spend. And we understand that Ernie followed your orders perfectly for two years. He wasn’t supposed to win ball games, add free agents, or do anything that could potentially harm the salary cap in the future. We get it. But please understand why Wizard fans are pissed: We wanted you to go out and hire the best and brightest GM available, when instead you kept a guy who didn’t mess up your orders too badly. Your entire blog post was built around the premise that the Wizards were a disaster when you got there. Well, Wizard fans remember who got us in that mess. So just when we started to get excited about the team and the $20 million plus in cap space, you inform us Ernie is gonna have the check book. Don’t say Wizard fans didn’t warn you. 

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