Before selling the Wizards to Ted Leonsis, the Pollin family said that it would continue to support the team. Irene Pollin, widow of the late Abe, even left behind a going away present when her last high profile act as majority owner -- representing the team at the 2010 NBA draft lottery -- resulted in the Wizards landing the No. 1 overall pick that turned into John Wall.
Pollin sat with Leonsis for at least one Wizards home game last season and apparently was attentively following the results of Thursday’s draft. She issued a statement that showed her support for Leonsis, Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and his staff, and Coach Flip Saunders after they were able to fill some needs with the additions of Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack.
“Many have said this draft class was a weak one, but Ernie Grunfeld, the scouting team and the Wizards front office made some very strong picks last night. All three players – Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack – hold the promise to contribute early on. Vesely is an explosive player who clearly has a ton of passion. Singleton should fortify our defense immediately and Shelvin Mack is already well-acquainted and clearly comfortable playing in the Verizon Center after his great showing here in March.
The team is blessed that each young man was still available. The road ahead will not be easy, but through hard work and dedication, the Wizards will have success. Ted Leonsis has the resolve and ability to steer the team in the right direction, and I look forward to watching the new players develop under the guidance of Coach Saunders and establish rapport with each other and their new teammates. The upcoming possibilities are exciting and I wish the new draftees and all of Wizards nation the best of luck in the coming years.”
Leonsis took to his blog, Ted’s Take, to discuss his feelings about the Wizards’ draft haul and offered some interesting tidbits about the discussions Grunfeld had with other NBA executives and rampant rumors that the team was looking to move up to get another player, possibly Enes Kanter or Derrick Williams.
“We did have a discussion on moving up in the draft. The price was our 6th pick; our 18th pick; AND our first round pick for next season,” Leonsis wrote. “That was simply too high of an ask and was counter to our plan of hording and using many picks to stock pile young players. I believe in setting a strategy and sticking with it. We didn’t believe going off strategy was the right course of action last night to move up a few spots in the draft.
“We were also approached about selling one of our picks for cash but we felt we needed more players and talent and we declined. We also thought about buying another pick in the first round. We were prepared to do it but there were no sellers.”
It worked out anyway, as the Wizards made what appeared to be some solid choices in an otherwise star-deprived draft. “All three players are high energy players,” he wrote. “They have sound basketball IQ; exhibit good fundamentals; and have high character. And all were excited about being drafted by us and playing in front of our great and growing fan base.”