Saturday, January 21, 2012

How does Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld still have a job?

by John Huffstetler

If an NBA team searching for a GM posted an ad on, it would read something like this: "The main responsibilities include creating an atmosphere of winning by building a competitive roster through drafting players, trading for players, signing free agents, and managing salaries. The person chosen will be expected to make intelligent decisions and put the franchise in a position to succeed in the playoffs on a regular basis." Using this definition, how does Washington Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld still have a job? Examining Grunfeld's career with the Wizards in the 4 major job criterion for a GM (Drafting players, trading for players, signing free agents, and resigning current players), he fails in every capacity of the job. Let's prove this failure by going through his drafts, trades, and signings.


Here is a summary of every draft pick that Grunfeld has made as Wizards GM (Note: Grunfeld was hired in June 2003 after the 03 Wizards draft):

2004- Rd. 1 #5- Devin Harris- Harris never played a game for Wash. He was traded to the Dallas Mavs along with Jerry Stackhouse, and Christian Laettner for Antawn Jamison. Grade- No grade. He didn't decide to draft Harris, Dallas did. For the trade, he gets a C.
Rd. 2 #32- Peter John Ramos- Granted, this was a 2nd round pick which is always a gamble, but it was a high 2nd rd pick. Ramos played 6 games in the NBA...for his career. Terrible pick. Grade- F

2005- Rd. 2 #49- Andray Blatche- Blatche has obviously had a good point-scoring NBA career and is still a starter for the Wizards, but he's only a 46% career shooter (below average for a big), a below average rebounder for his position, and a cancer in the locker room. Grade- C-. Even though he was a "good" pick at 49, the team would probably be better if he was never born.

2006- Rd. 1 #18- Oleksiy Pecherov- Pecherov played 3 meaningless seasons in the NBA. Complete bust. Grade- F
Rd. 2 #48- Vladimir Veremeenko- He ended up being traded to acquire Kirk Hinrich, so this was a valuable pick. Grade- A

2007- Rd. 1 #16- Nick Young- Young continues to play for the Wizards, contributing 17.4 ppg this past year. He's only a 43% shooter for his career, while averaging only 1 apg, 1.9 rpg, and 0.5 steals. Grade- D. He is an inefficient shooter, plays no defense, never passes, and doesn't rebound at all.
Rd 2 #47- Dominic McGuire- This is the type of player you want to get in the late second round of a draft. He plays solid defense, rarely turns the ball over, and rebounds adequately for his position. Too bad the Wizards traded him after 2+ seasons. Grade B-.

2008- Rd. 1 #18- JaVale McGee- McGee rebounds well and blocks shots. He is one of 4 above average players on the Wizards roster and he was a fine draft pick at 18. Grade B+
Rd. 2 #47- Bill Walker- He was traded to the Celtics for cash before ever playing a game. Cash is always a loser because it doesn't get you better on the floor. Wins earn you cash because they get fans in the seats. Grade- F

2009- Rd. 2 #32- Jermaine Taylor- Again, traded for cash. Grade- F.

2010- Rd. 1 #1- John Wall- It's hard to mess up the #1 pick (unless we're talking Kwame Brown), so I'm not giving Grunfeld much credit here. Wall will obviously be a great NBA player, despite his early struggles shooting this season. Grade- A-
Rd. 1 #30- Lazar Hayward and Rd. 2 #35- They were traded for Trevor Booker and Hamady Ndiaye on draft day. So far, Booker looks like an efficient scorer, solid defender, and terrific rebounder. Grade- B+

I won't mention this years draft because its way too early. I think Chris Singleton can already be given a high grade (probably an A) because of his ability to defend at an elite level. Overall, in 8 years, I count 4 players from the draft that contribute at an average level or higher for an NBA player: John Wall, Chris Singleton, JaVale McGee, and Trevor Booker. The drafting of Andray Blatche and Nick Young cannot be counted as successes despite the minutes they play for the team because their mere existence on the planet makes the Wizards a worse team. All 4 of these successful picks occurred in 2008 or later, meaning Grunfeld drafted 0 players in his first 4 years that contributed for the team in a positive way.

Major Trades

Feb 2003- As GM of the Milwaukee Bucks- Traded Ray Allen, Kevin Ollie, Flip Murray and a condition 2003 1st rd. pick to Seattle for guards Gary Payton and Desmond Mason- This trade occurred before he joined the Wizards, but still deserves mentioning because of its complete failure. Not only did he trade future hall of famer Ray Allen, he also relinquished a serviceable Flip Murray and a 1st rounder for an over-the-hill Gary Payton who played 28 games for the franchise. Grunfeld's propensity to trade potential for overrated veterans recurs numerous times throughout his career and is indicative of his lack of talent evaluating ability. Grade- F

June 2004- Traded the #5 pick, Jerry Stackhouse, and Christian Laettner for Antawn Jamison- Here again, Grunfeld trades the potential of a #5 pick for a veteran in Jamison. This time the trade worked out to some degree, as Jamison contributed well with the team for several years; however, this draft happened to have a few great NBA players drafted after 5 that play Jamison's position (SF): Andre Iguodala (#9 pick), Luol Deng (#7 pick), and Josh Smith (#17 pick). The Wizards would be a better team right now had they drafted any of these players, rather than trading for Jamison. Once again, Grunfeld opted to avoid making the pick and it cost his team in the long run. Grade- C

August 2005- Traded Kwame Brown and Laron Profit for Caron Butler and Chuck Atkins- This is the best move of Grunfeld's career as a GM (Drafting Michael Redd in the 2nd rd in Milwaukee is next best). Securing a player of Butler's caliber for a mediocre big man in Brown was an absolutely terrific move. What's the old saying? Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes. Grade- A+

June 2009- Traded the #5 pick, Pecherov, Etan Thomas, and Darius Songaila for Randy Foye and Mike Miller- Even in a weak draft, trading the #5 pick meant passing on rare talents like Steph Curry, Rick Rubio, and Brandon Jennings. Instead, the Wizards add two glorified role players in Foye and Miller. This trade was reprehensible and once again points to the notion that Grunfeld is unable to evaluate talent from college in any capacity. Grade- F-

February 2010- Traded DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, and Brendan Haywood for Quinton Ross, Josh Howard, James Singleton, and Drew Gooden- Granted, this was a salary dump move, but he didn't secure one long-term prospect or draft choice. That's unacceptable. Grade- F

February 2010- Traded Antawn Jamison for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Emir Preldzic, and a first-round pick- The first-round pick turned out to be Trevor Booker (after the trade of Lazar Hayward), so he unloaded salary and got a serviceable player. Grade B-

July 2010- Traded the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko for Kirk Hinrich, Kevin Seraphin, and cash, then traded Hinrich in Feb 2011 with Hilton Armstrong for Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Mo Evans, and a first-round pick (Chris Singleton). This series of events proved to be incredibly beneficial because Grunfeld secured the Wizards current players Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Kevin Seraphin, and Mo Evans for Veremeenko. Brilliant move. Grade- A+

Notable Contract Signings

August 2003- Signed FA Gilbert Arenas- This turned out to be a strong move for the franchise for several years. Arenas declined dramatically and faced multiple off the court issues, but that was more during his next contract (see below). Grade- B+

July 2006- Signed FA Darius Songaila- Grunfeld overpayed here for a fringe NBA player when he signed him to a 5 year 23 million dollar deal. Terrible contract for a terrible player. Grade- F

July 2008- Resigned Gilbert Arenas- Arenas does not play in the NBA, yet he is the 5th highest paid "player" this season because of this awful contract. When you offer slightly above average players max contracts, nothing good happens. One of the worst contracts in NBA history. Grade- F---------------------------------

September 2010- Resigned Andray Blatche- A five-year 35 million dollar deal for a selfish, terrible basketball player who is a cancer in the locker room (even though he is somehow captain!). Grade- F

To summarize, Grunfeld has made some good decisions as the Wizards GM, but the bad far outweighs the good. His inability and unwillingness to evaluate talent in the draft and his penchant for overvaluing average veteran players make him an unsuccessful GM. Ted Leonsis and the Washington Wizards need to fire him right now and begin to search for a capable GM to replace him. Maybe they could try posting my ad on monster.

Please follow us on twitter @11on11sports and myself @Truckstetler


  1. I was just about to research this myself because I wanted to see the history of all his moves and drafts, but your wizard ass did it before I could

  2. great article jhoof. best on the site thus far

  3. Goos stuff JHoof. Every Wizards fan can't believe how pathetic Grunfield has been. My biggest disappointment was the Foye-Miller many good young players in that draft.

    And resigning Arenas and Blatche for that long and that much was horrible.

    1. It's amazing how he always trades the potential of draft picks for average veterans. It's like he's scared to make a pick. And how about his comments about why Flip was fired? He basically threw Flip under the bus saying that the "young talent" wasn't developing. Ridiculous.

  4. Today is Jan 29th 2016 and this is still relevant