Ernie Grunfeld’s new motto: Loss is gain.
Michael Lee of the Washington Post reported that the Wizards extended Grunfeld’s contract into next season. But the long-time general manager is on a short leash. If Washington fails to make significant strides in the 2012-2013 campaign, his tenure in the nation’s capital will be in jeopardy.
According to Lee, Grunfeld spoke to reporters following his extension. After being asked if Blatche had played his last game in a Wizards uniform, the GM responded:
No. Not necessarily. Players are always forgiven if they come back and perform well. That remains to be seen. It’s going to be a process that we’ll monitor during the summer. Obviously, he’s a very talented player as he’s shown in the past. He got hurt early in the year, and he was just never able to get into the kind of game shape that we needed him to be in to help contribute this year.
If Grunfeld knows what’s good for him, he’ll conclude that monitoring process by cutting ties with the immature power forward. Blatche’s salary far outweighs his value. And with Kevin Seraphin’s emergence and Jan Vesely’s expected development, Washington possesses fewer reasons than ever to keep the headcase around.
It isn’t like Blatche has any trade value. Lee tweeted this report of desperation prior to the trade deadline:
Despite that willingness, Blatche is still a Wizard. Do you know why? An anonymous NBA GM told Lee early in the season: “You can’t win with Andray Blatche. I don’t care what anybody says. He has talent. He has some talent. But tell me where he’s won.”
Back to D.C.’s summer motto—Blatche’s bon voyage would trigger tremendous change for the better in Washington. Shaving the $23.4 million that he’s owed over the next three years off their salary cap would free the Wizards up to be active in free agency.
Overpaying for a star on the open market isn’t even their only option, though. And thanks to an upcoming draft class labeled as the most talented since 2003, Washington’s top pick furthers their flexibility. The odds are stacked in their favor to add Anthony Davis or Michael-Kidd Gilchrist to their squad.
Brian Jackson of CSNWashington even speculated on the selection’s use as trade bait. With the Oklahoma City Thunder running low on future funding after signing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to massive long-term contracts, James Harden is an option.
The talented sixth man will become a restricted free agent in 2013. A buyout of Rashard Lewis’ contract would allow the Wizards to sign the 22-year-old to an extension. Swap their first-round pick for the 22-year-old 2-guard and all of a sudden, a core of Harden, John Wall, Chris Singleton, Jordan Crawford, Jan Vesely, Nene and Seraphin isn’t looking half-bad.
Washington’s potential is sky high. But they won’t take off until Blatche has left the building.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.