SNIDER: Firing Grunfeld gives Wizards hope

Rick Snider
April 02, 2019 - 5:26 pm
Firing Ernie Grunfeld gives Wizards hope

Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports


Five years overdue, the Washington Wizards finally fired general manager Ernie Grunfeld on Tuesday. Let us hope owner Ted Leonsis doesn't blow picking a replacement.

The Wiz were 568-724 under Grunfeld over 16 seasons while making the playoffs eight times. They were good in a couple stretches, but persistent poor drafting and trading away second-rounders provided little help annually. Meanwhile, horrible max deals with Gilbert Arenas and John Wall hampered the team. Picking poor reserves was a problem, too.

Grunfeld did one thing well – trading away messes he made. Otherwise, this dismissal was long overdue.

The breaking point was the current 32-46 mark. Leonsis promised accountability before the season if the team didn't make the playoffs. He proved to be an honorable man. That Leonsis didn't wait until season's end is surprising, but irrelevant.

"We did not meet our stated goals of qualifying for the playoffs this season and, despite playing with injuries to several key players, we have a culture of accountability and a responsibility of managing to positive outcomes," Leonsis said.


The natural question now is who replaces Grunfeld? How does Leonsis find the next great young GM, not a retread. Does Leonsis have the knowledge to conduct the search or acquire help? There's no shame in relying on an outside search committee.

Meanwhile, does Leonsis give the new exec the authority to pick his coach? Scott Brooks seems to have lost the locker room's attention, though massive roster changes may make that irrelevant. Brooks is a good coach, but sometimes a coach's magic runs out and change for change's sake is needed.

What would really help this team is winning the draft lottery and getting Zion Williamson. After years of rarely obtaining a quality pick in the first handful of choices, Washington should get someone who contributes. Then, the Wiz must find some reserves.

The franchise needs nearly a complete reboot to be built around Bradley Beal. With Wall probably missing all of next season rehabbing, it's time to think past the guard, too. It's Beal's team. Work around him.

But for now, Wiz fans should just enjoy the moment. Grunfeld is finally gone and hope is coming. Hopefully, it's not false hope.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks