Wizards get a new look and new optimism

John Wall took a glance down at his Wizards uniform, looked back up and grinned. The Wizards have abandoned the blue, gold and black color scheme that came to represent the past three lottery seasons and gone to a new, retro design that hearkens back to the old, horizontal stripe look of the most successful Bullets teams.


You like the look? (Nick Wass/AP)

When the Wizards make their preseason debut against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, the names of the players in the new uniforms, and on that court with the new “dc” logo, won’t be much different than the ones who helped the team win 23 games last season. But they have added veterans Roger Mason Jr. and Ronny Turiaf and are expected to soon sign Maurice Evans. They also drafted rookies Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack, and Coach Flip Saunders is confident that the team will improve.

“I think we’re ready to make a jump,” Saunders said, “because there is no question that we’re getting the caliber of player that is very competitive.”

The Wizards have completed the re-brand but the rebuilding process remains in its infancy.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said he believed the Wizards were “ahead of schedule” with their rebuilding process, which he credited General Manager Ernie Grunfeld for starting when he broke up the team that featured Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler.

“My belief was that our team was on a downward trend during the offseason before I bought the team, and that I didn’t see hope,” Leonsis said. “I didn’t see a way to salvage upside from that team, and so Ernie did the right thing. He traded away a lot of our players, and we got lucky, we won the lottery, were able to bring in John Wall, and we kept making trades to get more young players.”

Grunfeld has added four additional first-round picks over the past two years, getting Trevor Booker with a pick acquired in the Antawn Jamison deal and getting Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford and Singleton in two deals involving Kirk Hinrich.

“We’ll wake up in a couple of years with a whole class of players going into their prime, and we’ll have cap space,” Leonsis said. “That plan you have to stick to because I’ve seen too many organizations when things get tough change the plan, change the system, and I don’t know of organizations that are successful lurching from strategy to strategy. I’ve been unabashed on what we’re doing.”

More on the Wizards:

Leonsis wants Wizards to become a ‘destination’

Saunders looking for more ‘popcorn players’ in preseason opener

Josh Howard agrees to deal with Utah

Wizards Insider: Latest updates

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.

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