While 16 teams will be preparing for the Playoffs as the month of April draws to a close; for the rest of the Association players will be heading home for the season while those team’s front offices will start to focus on how to extend their season starting in October. Some of those franchises have given their fans reasons to be more optimistic heading into this off-season; such as the Cleveland Cavaliers who drafted probable NBA Rookie Of The Year Kyrie Irving last June, as well as the Minnesota Timberwolves who were contending for a Post Season spot when rookie point guard Ricky Rubio went down for the year after he tore his ACL ending his season.
There are other clubs who knew they were heading into rough waters this season, like the Charlotte Bobcats, who blew their team up at the end of last season and are in the first year of a rebuild. They sport the worst record in the Association at 7-50, but they are back at square one after making the Post Season for the first time in team history in 2010. They are hoping to emulate teams like the Thunder and the Grizzlies who successfully rebuilt their clubs through the Draft.
Then there are teams such as the Washington Wizards; who have been in rebuild-mode for the past four seasons and would have the worst record in the Association at 14-44, if not for the Bobcats. Although the Wizards won their last two contests, the club is still 3-7 over their last ten games and seem no further along in attaining success than they did four years ago. As of Thursday night the team has had an embarrassing record of 82-222 during the past four seasons and there truly is no legitimate hope that things will get better in the near future.
The Wizards fired head coach Flip Saunders early in the campaign after getting off to a 2-15 start and replaced him with assistant Randy Wittman who has guided the club to a 12-29 mark under his watch. It is doubtful that Wittman will be asked back by the team for next season; however according to the “Washington Post” the changes may not stop with the coaching staff. Wizards Team President Ernie Grunfeld’s contract is up at the end of this season and the club’s Owner Ted Leonsis, may choose to cut ties with him as well.
Grunfeld has been with the team since June of 2003, during which time the club has gone 278-436 with four appearances in the Post Season, yet winning just one Playoff series. The club was hampered by injuries under former bench boss Eddie Jordan which never allowed them to meet the success that many NBA observers thought they were capable of. That era would come to a messy conclusion, as the club fired Jordan and soon traded All-Stars Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison after the team’s former star Gilbert Arenas brought guns into the Wizards locker room leading to a suspension for the rest of that season.
The Wizards never really have recovered from that incident; as they have been stuck in the basement of the Association ever since. The team has two young players who could have big upsides in point guard John Wall and shooting guard Jordan Crawford and they traded for veteran center Nene before the NBA trade deadline took effect. The club’s picks from last year’s NBA Draft have yet to cause any great excitement; as the most noteworthy accomplishment by any of their rookies was Chris Singleton proudly blowing $10,000 on a Mega Millions jackpot.
Grunfeld told reporters that the team still has a lot of work ahead to return to being a competitive organization. That job should be handled by somebody else as Grunfeld has had plenty of time to prove he is not capable of doing the job. They say that the tough give up and move on, while the weak give up and stay. The Washington Wizards owe it to their fans to move on this off-season.