Wizard's GM Ernie Grunfeld's stupidity is amazing

Just look at this hollinger:


Wizards make cap room disappear
Hornets come up winners, even with the hefty Rashard Lewis contract

Updated: June 20, 2012, 7:55 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com

Okafor Traded To Wizards
Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon grade the Wizards' trade.Tags: Emeka Okafor

The good news for Washington Wizards fans is that general manager Ernie Grunfeld is building a winner. The bad news is that he's doing it in Minnesota and New Orleans.

Seriously, can anyone explain why this guy is still running a basketball team?

Grunfeld engineered yet another numbingly brutal trade today when he sent Rashard Lewisand a second-round pick to the New Orleans Hornets for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza.

The deal is classic Grunfeld -- taking a "win now" approach with a team that's not even close to win-now mode, overpaying veterans, mismanaging the cap, and basically throwing slop at the wall and hoping something sticks.

Okafor and Ariza combine to make $42 million this year and next, soaking up all of Washington's cap space for this year and next. The departing Lewis was due $22.7 million, but only $13.9 million of that was guaranteed, so the Wizards ate close to $30 million in salary with this deal.

[+] EnlargeTrevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesEmeka Okafor was once the No. 2 overall pick and Trevor Ariza has a ring, but both come at a hefty price tag.

This effectively takes the Wizards out of any potential free-agent deals beyond the midlevel; additionally, it also takes them out of amnesty auction bids, or cap space trades, or any other maneuvers that rebuilding teams typically take to begin stockpiling talent.

The big impact is a year from now. Okafor has an early termination option for $14.6 million after the season that he'd be nuts to exercise, while Ariza has a similar one for $7.7 million. Barring outrageous improvement by either, we can presume they're on Washington's books for 2013-14 at a cost of $22 million, compared with the $0 the Wizards owed Lewis; this puts them over the cap even if they amnesty Andray Blatche. (Another brilliant Grunfeld maneuver, by the way.) In fact, depending on how they use their exception money the next two summers, they may need to amnesty Blatche a year from now just to avoid the luxury tax.

For that, they get a middling but overpaid starting center, and a grossly overpaid wing defender with perhaps the worst shot selection in basketball. Alas, his only rival in that department will be starting alongside him. Which brings us to another reason to hate this trade: It did nothing to solve Washington's biggest problem, shooting. If anything, it exacerbated it.

This isn't quite as awful as the deal Grunfeld made two years ago when he traded the fifth overall pick to Minnesota for Mike Miller and Randy Foye, thinking those two were the key missing pieces separating his 19-win team from the championship, but it follows the same misguided logic. He has a bad team with a bad coach and obvious, glaring weaknesses, and somehow he thinks blowing his cap space on two middling, overpaid veterans will push the Wizards to the promised land.

By the way, if you're taking the "they had to make John Wall happy" angle, keep in mind that he is a restricted free agent, and that by design the Wizards have all the leverage in this negotiation. Basically, no team has ever lost a player it truly wanted to keep at this stage; it's only years later, when they could become unrestricted free agents, that we've seen players like LeBron James, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony force their way out.

This wasn't supposed to happen when Ted Leonsis took over; he had followed a patient rebuilding program with the NHL's Washington Capitals and everybody expected the same for the Wizards. Instead he inexplicably extended Grunfeld's contract based on one halfway-decent month to end the season while half the teams around the Wizards were tanking, and then signed off on this travesty.

He overpaid for the assets, too. Remember, a few weeks ago people were talking about how New Orleans might use the 10th pick to persuade somebody to take Okafor and Ariza off its hands. Instead the Hornets are keeping the 10th pick and got rid of both contracts. How hard do you suppose they laughed when Washington agreed to throw in a second-round pick too?

As for the Hornets, this was a wondrous move that offloaded two problem contracts, cleaned out room in a crowded frontcourt for rookie Anthony Davis, and gives them almost unlimited cap room going forward. Once they waive Lewis, the Hornets will be far enough under the cap that they could amnesty Jarrett Jack, offer Deron Williams a max contract, and still re-sign Eric Gordon.

It's unlikely D-Will would take that bait, but the real fun comes a year later when Jack and Lewis are off New Orleans' books entirely; if the Hornets offer Gordon about $10 million a year, they would still have nearly $30 million in cap space. Of course, they still need to use this space to get actual players, but between trades and free agency they are in position to put a potent team around Davis fairly quickly. Also, some chap named Chris Paul will be a free agent next summer if he doesn't extend his contract.

Grunfeld said the Wizards are better than they were yesterday, and in a very narrow sense he's correct: This deal does incrementally improve his roster. But there are far more efficient ways to produce the same improvement, and instead Grunfeld has essentially handcuffed the franchise to two more years of mediocrity so he could win a news conference.

And just like that, two MORE overpaid, middling veterans. Please fire this guy.

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Good article...I had thought

Good article...I had thought it was a bad deal just from looking at the players and contracts but after reading that you really get a sense of how horrid it truly is.

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I don't always agree with

I don't always agree with Hollinger, but he nailed this one. It is hard to rationalize this trade from the Wizards point of view. Sure, the Wizards weren't in a great position to build a contender before the trade, but they are in even worse shape afterwards.

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great article. Don't get the

great article. Don't get the point when your in the rebuilding process to get rid of a big expiring contract for two average veterans who both still have two years left, plus throw in a draft pick, makes no sense.

I doubt they'd get Deron Williams, but if they somehow could get Williams, resign Gordon, and maybe draft both Davis and Leonard for their froncourt of the future, the Hornets would be a very good team.

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It's a decent trade for

It's a decent trade for washington. a few more reliable starters to mix with their youth. they tried the strictly youth movement, and even with a good coach like flip, it failed miserably.

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PG: John Wall/Shelvin

PG: John Wall/Shelvin Mack
SG: Jordan Crawford
SF: Trevor Ariza/Chris Singleton
PF: Emeka Okafor/Trevor Booker/Jan Vesesly/Andray Blatche
C: Nene/Kevin Seraphin

Front line defense and size is excellent. Ariza and Singleton are two good perimeter defenders. I think you can see here though how badly the Wizards need Brad Beal. They need a guy who can put it in the hoop. I think if Beal goes #2 you have to move down in the 5-10 range and take Waiters, Lamb, or Rivers. They need scoring and shooting badly.

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I don't find it that bad for

I don't find it that bad for the Wizards. Had they had cap space, they probably would have overpaid for some veterans anyways. I think they are a 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs next season.

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I'm sure everyone knows what

I'm sure everyone knows what Grunfeld is doing right now. I believe he's trying to build a winner but in order to do that you may just want to get the most of of your lottery picks especially when one of them is the former number 1 pick and your franchise cornerstone. As someone already said, they've already tried the straight youth movement to see no returns whatsoever on that investment. They're trying to surround Wall, this lottery pick(next years lottery pick, they'll be there next year.), the other young guys on the other roster with positive influences and it makes sense to me. Mek and Ariza may be on the books for the next few years and may not be worth their contracts. However, it's got to be better than having Rashard Lewis even if he is probably going to get amnestied and or come off the books after this season. He didn't do anything remotely close to earning that contract and at least you get shot blocking, rebounding, interior and perimeter defensive help with the two guys heading to DC. I think it's a good deal for Washington. You get rid of Lewis bum a$$ and get more of a veteran presence around the young guys that will actually contribute in some way on an off the court. Mek will probably get them close to a double dip next year and Ariza will slash/defend. Whatever they do it's better than Rashard Lewis!! If it's just about the money please Complain about them owing Nene 52mil over the next 4 years.

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I see it as the Wizard

I see it as the Wizard realizing they won't be that good within the next 2 or 3 seasons and the smartest thing to do is to get some professionals in their to completely eradicate the moronic tendencies that were taking place in Washington. 2 of the 3 knuckleheads are gone and the 3rd one Andre Blatche likely will be gone soon as well. As things stand right now, it's not like there are a bunch of free agents who would have any interest in Washington and even if there were it wouldn't be a game changing player. So the Wizards have Wall and a few other young guys with some promise, they will probably draft Bradley Beal, and they've offset that youth with some veteran pros, locker room guys, to teach these guys how to be professional and help them win more.

If all goes well there in two seasons when Okafor and Ariza's contracts are up, Washington will be a destination where high level free agents want to go. We'll have to wait and see though.

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at first i hated the trade,

at first i hated the trade, then i was like "ok maybe they are just trying to keep Wall", but ur right...big name free agents usually only leave after their first big contract...

the problem in Washington (besides Grunfeld being a complete moron) is that their coach and GM are only under contract for 1 more year...so what is Grunfeld supposed to do? be patient? the guy is trying to keep his job! so trying to get some vets with DECENT contracts makes a little sense i suppose? Ariza's contracts not bad, Okafor is way over-paid but 2 years isnt a strong commitment...they need to amnesty Blatche and draft Beal...

PG - Wall

SG - Beal

SF - Ariza

PF - Okafor/Nene

C - Nene/Okafor

they have a really young bench now with Vesely, Seraphin, Crawford, Mack, Booker, Singleton...

i guess i dont HATE the trade...but its also not the route i wouldve taken...the only thing i can say is i guess they figure MKG is going #2 and Grunfeld is fearing for his job

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what if now Wizards nake a

what if now Wizards take a play for Rudy Gay?? with the likes of Ariza, Vesely, Seraphin, Chris Singleton and Crawford for him!!

you'll get such a team:

John Wall/Shelvin Mack
Brad Beal
Rudy Gay
Nene/Trevor Booker/Andray Blatche
Emeka Okafor/Festus Ezeli(#32pick)

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why would the Grizzlies ever

why would the Grizzlies ever do that?

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I quite like this trade

I quite like this trade washington did - sure the contracts are large but ariza and okafor CAN be good players. They will be vets and be asked to good role models both on and off the court. I think the change of scenery will do them good and they can both make good positive contributions. The wiz were so young they needed some vets. And lets face it every team has at least one or two bad contracts. Thats just the nature of the business.

I think the wizards can look at 7 or 8th seed for this season, then the next season could look at getting to the second round. They have a good roster, they just need some good team chemistry and coaching...

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@DC there was a rumor they

@DC there was a rumor they might be shopping Gay!

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I think there line up will look something like this

John Wall, Jordan Crawford
Beal, Jordan Crawford
Ariza, Vesley, Singleton
Nene, Seriphin, Vesley, Booker
Okafor, Nene,

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I think they needed to change

I think they needed to change the culture of the team to help develop their young players. I mean for two year this is not a terrible move. The Arenas contract was terrible. Okafor and Ariza are both solid player who have never been trouble makers. Ariza has a ring and Okafor is a hard worker. If Wall improves like he should, this is top 5 team with younger players that will step in when 2 years from now, Okafor and Ariza, contract is up. Lewis was giving them nothing and did not fit in well with this group.

It is almost certain now that they draft a shooting guard. Also Ariza may not be able to create his own shot but he is a good spot up shooter from 3 or at least he was in LA. Okafor can give you solid numbers when healthy. Nene is already there so they actually have a veteran line up except for Wall and possibly Beal.

This move was not a great move but it was not a totally stupid one like that last deal. Ariza can actually play and should get a lot of open 3's and Okafor is solid. Blatche will probably be moved, waived, or amnestied. Wiz could have done worst.

They will have veterans to support their two young starters in Beal and Wall. Singleton played pretty well without a proper training camp and should be the starter at the 3 down the road. He may even start over Ariza.

Jan Vesley looks to be the future at the 4 spot or if he does not pan out in 2 years he can be replaced but until then they have a solid player Okafor and a decent backup in Booker.

Nene has the center spot and Seraphin is young and backs him up and could take that spot from him if Nene leaves after his contract which may not happen for a while and also Seraphin can play the 4.

I think if you look at all their young talent, getting some veterans was a good move but the this deal is kind of shaky because they helped the other team more than they helped themselves. Two years from now we will know how wise this move is but right now all is speculation.

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Not as bad as it seems

Though not excited i understand and agree with the trade. Lets go ahead and pop the hype bubble right now, no big (i'm talking Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, etc.) free agents are straight up signing with the Wiz or the Hornets, you know it and I know it. As a GM Ernie did a great job of not getting offseason eyes for the stars that don't return his phone calls.

The Wiz now have a solid mix of vets with the youth they have chosen to be their future stars. Plus they have bought themselves 2 years to let those future stars develop while still having a chance to make the playoffs. In all the message boards everywhere I haven't heard a solution that could accomplish that better than this. If anything more people had started drinking the Andre Drummond kool-aid. He was gonna come in here and make things right? He was gonna all of a sudden develop Wall's game and make the Wiz relevant sometime this decade? No way. I'll take this team, add Beal/Barnes, and in two years you have a developed John Wall, Kevin Seraphin, Beal/Barnes, and maybe Vesely on a team with plenty of cap space that knows what a couple wins feel like and wants more. And either way I don't think we are done dealing. This year alone Crawford and Vesely can still bring you value and after next year you are in the same situation with expiring deals to shop in Okafor and Ariza. Was this a sexy deal? No. Was it a good deal for the second worst team in the league to be relevant and competitive again? Yes.

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We're not even aiming for

We're not even aiming for Atlanta Hawks Philadelphia 76ers mediocre, we're aiming for Milwaukee Bucks mediocre. :(

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Wizards fan

As a wizards fan i love this trade i can see okafor and ariza giving at least what you would expectbfrom robinson or mkg their rookie season and now they can select a shooter in Barnes or Beal preferably barnes as a 68 athletic two next to 64 athletic john wall then ariza okafor and nene. A homeless mans heat lol.

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Just because the Grizz may be

Just because the Grizz may be shopping Rudy Gay does not mean they will give him away.

The success of the Wiz depends on the development of John Wall. He and his team did not really improve that much in his 2nd year. He needs to prove he is a PG that guys will want to play with and maybe 2 years from now they can sign somebody that can actually help get them out of the first round of the playoffs.

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the Wizards probably need to

the Wizards probably need to move Booker now. He went from starter to 4th string with 1 phone call from Ernie Grunfeld

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I believe Washington got

I believe Washington got Okafor to help in the rebounding department..Seems like teams need are trying to counter the Lakers huge frontcourt by bringing big men to their teams..NeNe has been a solid player,but he's never been an elite rebounder..And the other current Wizard big men are inexperienced and inconsistent...But adding Okafor & Ariza brings 2 very good defenders to the Wizards...

This trade leaves me with more questions then answers..

New Orleans:

1.By unloading Okafor,does this mean the Hornets will resign Kamen? They made it known during the season they were trying to trade him..

2.Does this mean they're planning to draft a center with the 10th pick?

3.If they waive Lewis ,who'll start opposite Davis at the forward spot?


1.Vesely,Singleton and now adding Ariza makes them 3 deep at small forward..Could mean those rumors we've been hearing about them being in love with MKG have been changed? And now it appears that Beal is the guy at 3rd..

2.Okafor has been dealing with injuries the last few years..So was it smart to bring on his contract,knowing he might not be healthy ?

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It's not that terrible. It

It's not that terrible. It allows them to solidify their starting lineup and move forward with their backcourt of the future that actually compliments each other very well (Wall & Beal). It takes all of the potential risk out of the 3rd pick (they were considering MKG & Drummond) and both guys come off the books right when Wall is up for his extension meaning if there's someone on the market they wanna bringg in to team up with him most likely at the 3 spot they'll be in good position to make a run at them.
Plus let's be honest...what were they gonna do with that cap space if they didn't make the trade? Overpay for players that aren't gonna change your franchise who would be on longer deals than the 2 yrs they have Ariza & Emeka for.

My ONLY problem with this deal is I think they could've gotten the 10th pick out of NO if they really pushed for it.

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Not a bad deal

They got rid Lewis who's hasn't done anything close to his Orlando days. and got some players who actually produce. Let's be honest No huge free agents woulda signed there this year anyways. Now they got two assets for future dealings and time to show Wall they can put a team out there that can win. They will be 6-8 seed next year.

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@Rudeboy 1. They probably


1. They probably will make an effort to resign him, unless Meyers Leonard is available in the draft.

2. Sounds like it, but because Leonard is shooting up the big board, I expect some team #1-9 to take a chance.

3. Get Jason Smith or Aminu to do it. Aminu could use some development, anyway.

4. It's probably Beal at this point now, unless they're trying to make a play for Gay.

5. Lol it was never smart to begin with.

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PG: John Wall/Shelvin

PG: John Wall/Shelvin Mack

SG: Jordan Crawford
SF: Trevor Ariza/Chris Singleton
PF: Emeka Okafor/Trevor Booker/Jan Vesesley


= washington gains more rather than NO

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Washington is clearly taking

Washington is clearly taking Beal or Barnes, more likely the former since Barnes isn't a true 2 (see Johnson, Wes), but the issue is that they're on the Bucks level for the next few years, not adding top talent, have a weak-ish coach, and no real way to improve unless Wall and Beal become absolute superstars. I greatly dislike the way Nene and Okafor's games go together, and Okafor has been banged up and generally not good for a few years. Ariza is badly overpaid. Getting veteran talent and leadership can be done on the cheap, especially given how much space Washington had. Kaman would have cost a fraction of these two combined and actually fit, for an easy example. Two guys on the roster, Seraphin and Booker, are about as good as Okafor now (seriously, Emeka has been not so good the past 2-3 years), again, for a fraction of the cost. Singleton is essentially a better Ariza now for the smallest fraction of the price. I just don't get this trade. Those who like it seem to just be going, "I like names I've heard of! Go Wizards!" It makes little to no basketball or financial sense.

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