Thom Loverro: Owning up to Grunfeld's mistakes with Wizards

|
Sports,NBA,Wizards,Thom Loverro
Ernie Grunfeld is now a free man.

The Wizards' president of basketball operations got a contract extension from owner Ted Leonsis.

He is finally relieved of the burden of having worked for late owner Abe Pollin.

Pollin passed away more than two years ago, but that hasn't stopped Grunfeld's apologists from putting the GM's mistakes on the late owner's tab.

But now Grunfeld will be working under a contract and commitment from Leonsis, so he finally can strut his NBA front office stuff, perhaps even recreating the 45-win, second-round playoff magic of 2004-05.

This is what his apologists would have you think -- that the long list of mortal basketball sins that took place in the nine years Grunfeld has been the Wizards' general manager resulted from Pollin's influence, as if Grunfeld were some sort of errand boy.

Committing the future of the franchise to Gilbert Arenas -- twice -- that was Pollin.

Trading the No. 5 pick in 2009 for Mike Miller and Randy Foye and passing on Ricky Rubio -- Pollin.

All those wasted draft picks? Grunfeld's apologists will tell you that the NBA Draft is a crapshoot, as if he were on a computer in his basement scouting for talent on fan websites.

Let's take, for an example, one of his selections who is still in the NBA, a rarity for a Grunfeld pick.

Here was your general manager's evaluation of Nick Young in 2007: "Nick is more mature than a lot of players in the draft. ... He has a good attitude and a very good work ethic."

The apologists would try to convince you that Grunfeld knew he would use Young as part of a three-way deal to acquire Nene five years later.

The lone blunder no one can blame on Pollin is the insane decision to give Andray Blatche a $35 million contract extension.

If most of what has made the Wizards the standard for NBA embarrassment is not Grunfeld's fault, someone ought to tell the organization to fix Grunfeld's biography on the team website:

"Grunfeld joined the Wizards organization on June 30, 2003. In just his second year in Washington, the Wizards won a playoff series for the first time in over two decades with a roster that was largely assembled under his guidance. Four years later, Grunfeld's Wizards reached an organizational goal of becoming perennial playoff contenders with their fourth consecutive playoff appearance and now aim to rebuild and reclaim their position as one of the NBA's yearly postseason entrants."

I didn't see Pollin's name anywhere there. I believe it says, "Grunfeld's Wizards."

"I'm pleased to announce that Ernie Grunfeld will remain our GM and continue to lead our rebuilding efforts in partnership with me," Leonsis wrote on his blog.

So there you go: Ted and Ernie, partners. Now you have someone new to blame.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

View article comments Leave a comment