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The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

The Five Worst Moves of the Ernie Grunfeld Era

It has been nearly 16 years since the Wizards hired Ernie Grunfeld as their General Manager. In that time, the Wizards have yet to make the conference finals; worse still, they do not have a single 50-win season under Grunfeld. And now, following yesterdays embarrassing effort to orchestrate a three-team trade, it is painfully clear to every basketball fan just how inept Ernie Grunfeld is.

Grunfeld’s prolonged stay has lead to many mistakes from the front office. Including bad contracts, shitty trades, and horrible draft decisions. Today, I have the task of picking out the five worst decisions Grunfeld has made as the Wizards’ GM. The hardest part of this article is just choosing five because Ernie has made so many bad decisions.

5. Gilbert Arenas’s 6-year, 111-Million-Dollar Contract

While Gilbert Arenas may be remembered as one of the best Wizards of all time (sorry Michael Jordan), he is also remembered for getting stuck with one of the worst contracts in NBA history.

Arenas was considered a financially risky commitment because of his concerning history of knee issues. Grunfeld ignored the risks and tied the Wizards’ future to Arenas. The season after signing this contract, Gilbert became riddled with knee injuries again, and only played in two games.

After a few more disappointing seasons and the infamous gun showdown with Javaris Crittenton, Arenas was finally traded by the Wizards in the 2010-11 season, but the Wiz were still stuck with his contract because they owed him deferred paychecks. Gilbert Arenas received his last check from the Wizards five years later in 2016.

4. The Andray Blatche – Javale Mcgee – Nick Young Trio

Man, talk about a dark time for the Wizards: First the whole gun-in-the-locker-room situation, then this immature laughing stock of a team.

During this “big three’s” run as the Wizards’ core, they produced a hilarious amount of Shaqtin’ A Fool moments. I genuinely don’t remember if Shaqtin’ A Fool was a thing before this team because they made it so popular. Whether it was JaVale McGee constantly trying to dunk from the free throw line, Swaggy P air-balling layups, or Andray Blatche simply not trying, this team was always able to make us laugh. [And cry.]

To this day, I can not see how Ernie Grunfeld could have imagined these three players as team leaders working out. In fact, Grunfeld even gave the out-of-shape headcase Andray Blatche a five-year 35-million dollar contract extension.

To make matters worse, future leader John Wall was drafted into this locker room and all of its immaturities which hindered his progress.

3. Drafting Jan Vesely

Jan Vesely may have been a fan favorite from day one, but this pick still haunts the Wizards.

Heading into the 2011 draft, the Wizards were in full rebuilding mode and held the 6th overall pick. This gave the Wizards a much-needed opportunity to find a sidekick to play with their franchise player, John Wall.

Many in the organization wanted the Wizards to reach for Washington State guard Klay Thompson after he blew them away in pre-draft workouts. Grunfeld, however, decided to make the “safer” pick, drafting Power Forward Jan Vesely from the Czech Republic.

It’s safe to say that Jan did not work out for the Wiz. At one point in his career, he had more career fouls than career points. Vesley only played three years for the Wizards, failing to average more than five PPG in a single season and generally disappointing the fan base in the process. Can you imagine how different the Wizards would look today if Grunfeld had picked Klay Thompson — or even the later-selected Kawhi Leonard — with that 6th overall pick, instead of Jan?

2.The Entire 2016 Offseason

The 2016 offseason was so bad for the Wizards that there isn’t even one specific moment to point to, so I’m putting the whole offseason down for number two.

The beginning of the offseason looked promising as all-star Al Horford was reportedly choosing between signing with the Wizards or the Celtics. However, despite Adrian Wojnarowski even once suggesting that Horford preferred the Wizards’ talent over Boston’s, the Wizards came up short. This sent Grunfeld into panic mode, and he began throwing money at anybody who was willing to play for the Wizards.

In his desperation, Grunfeld signed Ian Mahinmi to a four-year 64-million-dollar contract, Andrew Nicholson to a four-year 26-million-dollar contract, Jason Smith to a three-year 16-million-dollar contract — and traded a 2021 second-round pick for Trey Burke.

With the benefit of hindsight, I can confidently say that these moves did not work out. Of these four, the only player still on the current roster is Ian Mahinmi who is somehow averaging 3.6 points per game and making 16 million dollars this year.

It’s hard to believe a GM can make worse decisions than these. But Ernie Grunfeld never ceases to amaze.

1. Trading for Randy Foye and Mike Miller

The Wizards were in desperate need of young talent heading into the 2009 draft, as it seemed their big three of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison was just not going to bring home a championship on their own.

In that draft, the Wizards held the fifth overall pick – a great opportunity to land some young talent and brighten up their future. Instead, Grunfeld traded away that 5th overall pick, passing up on players like Ricky Rubio, Jrue Holiday, and even Stephen Curry for veteran players Randy Foye and Mike Miller.

The following season, Miller and Foye each averaged a measly 10 points a game the Wizards went 26-56, and both players abandoned ship. This was the worst decision Ernie Grunfeld has made as the Wizards GM. He managed to destroy the team’s current roster, and fuck up the team’s future all with one trade. How Grunfeld survived this decision, I have no idea. But if you’re as ready as I am to see Ernie fired, come out at 5 PM on Sunday to protest this joke of a GM that just isn’t funny anymore.

What do you believe Ernie’s worst moves as Wizards GM were? Let us know in the comments. Can the Wizards recover from this train wreck of a GM? Pray with us in the comments. Is he really not that bad? Be wrong in the comments.

-Sean

Come join our #FireErnie movement on December 16th.

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