Grant & Danny: Wizards are still 'chasing their own tail'

Ben Krimmel
February 07, 2019 - 12:33 pm

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards made a pair of trades before the NBA trade deadline, but those moves were insufficient.

"They found a way to make two trades that I like a lot," Grant Paulsen said Thursday on 106.7 The Fan, "and still leave me upset this morning." 

The Wizards parted with Otto Porter and Markieff Morris in a pair of deals that reduced the team's salary commitments beyond this season and returned Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis, and Wesley Johnson.

"By doing those two things, both essentially salary dumps, so to speak. They got under the luxury tax threshold. So Wizards fans are excited going, 'Hey, we're rebuilding. We're finally detonating!' Except that they're not. It seems like the Wizards are claiming victory that they're under the luxury tax, but they're not going to keep trading pieces," Paulsen said.

Paulsen would rather see Washington owner Ted Leonsis commit to a true rebuild by casting off pieces that work in the short-term and accumulate as many assets as possible for the future, especially after John Wall suffered another injury to his left leg and will be out at least 12 months.

Danny Rouhier asked, how does the Wizards salary dump help fans? 

"It's the classic do just enough. It's the classic middle of the road. It's the classic begin to do the right thing and then stop yourself before you get to your destination," Rouhier said. 

Rouhier lays out a "ludicrous" scenario where the Wizards will use the cap space freed up to re-sign Tomas Satoransky, make a run at Jeff Green, and extend soon-to-be 34-year-old Trevor Ariza. These moves would inhibit the Wizards from rebuilding fully and as Rouhier mentioned on Twitter, could be a sign longtime GM Ernie Grunfeld will remain in his position. 

"His magic is to clean up his own mess," Rouhier said of Grunfeld. 

Why is Grunfeld so often the target of scorn? Drafts have so often been a point of embarrassment. 

"This is chasing your own tail and eating it," Rouhier said in an attempt to analogize the "lunacy" of Grunfeld's circular strategy. 

"And the problem here, the biggest problem is: Is this (Grunfeld's) mandate? Is this what Ted Leonsis asked him to do? Simply, get me below the luxury and we're gonna keep going for it this year. We're gonna try and re-rack some of the same group that's got us 10 games under-.500 in a dog crap (Eastern Conference)," Rouhier said. 

"They are stuck and broken and they have gotten slightly unstuck (with these trades)," Rouhier said. "And they can't wait to get back in the same line that doesn't move."

These trades, Paulsen said, give the Wizards options to do something different. However, whether they will commit to a strategy that will set them up for the future remains a doubt.

"Ernie always thinks they're a move or two away," Paulsen said. "He's never, I don't think once said, 'Why don't we try to get bad to get good? Why don't we try to start from the bottom and build something?'"

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