Ranking the Worst Washington Wizards Decisions of the Ernie Grunfeld Era
Ernie Grunfeld has been the Washington Wizards general manager for ten years.
Ten whole years.
Grunfeld has made enough mistakes in the last ten years to be fired ten times over, but for some reason he remains the GM. He even earned a contract extension last offseason.
However, even the biggest Grunfeld haters can admit that he has made a few good, albeit easy, picks in the last few years in John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter.
Let's take a look at the five biggest mistakes that Ernie Grunfeld has made as the Washington Wizards GM.
5. Extending Andray Blatche
Andray Blatche is one of the most frustrating players I have ever seen. Hands down.
Blatche is one of those players who could give you a 20-point, 10-rebound night, then follows it with a game in which he gets a few early fouls and doesn't play for more than ten minutes.
In Grunfeld's eyes, that type of head case deserved a five-year, $35 million dollar contract extension. After getting the money, Blatche completely checked out and stopped playing with any passion. On top of that, he got out of shape during that offseason.
If Grunfeld didn't extend Blatche's contract, he could have gotten another year or two of productivity out of the incredibly frustrating project.
4. Trading for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza
The most recent poor move that Grunfeld has made was a trade for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza after the 2012 season. The Wizards were unable to unload Rashard Lewis' mammoth contract in return for this "veteran presence."
The then New Orleans Hornets clearly got the better part of this trade, as they also received a second-round pick along with Lewis' expiring contract. The Hornets quickly bought out the remainder of his contract and were able to start another rebuilding process.
The Wizards on the other hand, added a $46 million-dollar tandem that has still a few more years before expiring. Ariza has been miserable in his short time with the Wizards, as Martell Webster and Chris Singleton have taken his minutes.
Okafor was a decent player for the Wizards last year but not good enough to warrant this trade. If Washington had held out and let Lewis' contract expire instead of trading him, they would have had an incredible amount of cap space this offseason.
Instead, they are trying to be a championship contender with a very young team. I would certainly want the former.
3. Drafting Jan Vesely
Heading into the 2010 NBA draft, the Wizards were in full rebuilding mode when they drafted John Wall with the first overall pick.
The following year, instead of making a safer pick at No. 6, Grunfeld put his faith in Jan Vesely of Czech Republic. Vesley has not lived up to the expectations of a No. 6 pick.
One of many running jokes among Wizard fans concerns Vesley and his defense. For most of the season, he had more fouls than points (he ended with 126 points and 107 fouls).
Vesely also had one of the worst statistical free-throw shooting seasons in NBA history. He made less than 31 percent of his free throws, an embarrassing number for anyone who has ever touched a basketball.
The Wizards could have turned the Vesely pick into Kawhi Leonard, Kenneth Faried, Nikola Vucevic or one of the Morris twins. Imagining John Wall with any of these players is incredibly frusrating for anyoen who has ever followed the Wizards.
2. Trading for Randy Foye and Mike Miller
Every franchise has a moment in their history where its fans wish you could just hit the re-do button.
This trade has to be that moment for the Washington Wizards.
In 2009, Ernie Grunfeld traded the No. 5 overall pick for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. The thought was that the Wizards had a championship contending core in Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler.
That thought was entirely wrong.
The "big three" that the Wizards hyped for so many years was never good enough to compete for a championship, and the addition of Mike Miller and Randy Foye wouldn't have them contending any time soon.
As for the No. 5 pick, the Wizards blew a chance at getting a great young player. If they kept the pick, they could have had Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson or DeMar DeRozan, who now are all contributing members to their respective NBA teams.
Instead, the Wizards put all their eggs in Gilbert Arenas' basket. What did Arenas do in return you ask? He brought a gun to the locker room, getting suspended after 32 games, and thus blew up the "big three."
The Wizards had no backup plan without Arenas. With one of these guards, the Wizards would have had a much easier transition to becoming a contender again.
1. Signing Gilbert Arenas to a Six-Year, $111 Milion Contract
Gilbert Arenas is the biggest name in Wizards history but, because of injuries and off-the-court problems, his time in the NBA was cut short.
Grunfeld looked past Arenas' plethora of knee injuries to give him a massive six-year, $111 million contract to try to contend for a championship rather than rebuilding.
This was undoubtedly one of the worst moves in NBA history.
Gilbert Arenas was never the same player. His knee never quite recovered from his first knee surgery, and he was suspended after 32 games of the 2009-2010 season after bringing a gun to the locker room.
The Arenas extension was a move of desperation. The Wizards failed to move past the first round of the playoffs during Arenas' time and instead of moving on, they held on for dear life.
Giving $111 million dollars to an egomaniac with a history of injuries was reason enough to fire Grunfeld.