It’s halftime. The Wizards have played 33 of the 66 games in this compressed, lockout-shortened season, and they have lost 26 games and a head coach. Flip Saunders’s firing after a 2-15 start was the boldest move that has been during made the rebuilding process and signaled that more change is likely on the way.
Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld’s contract expires after this season, and though he has followed owner Ted Leonsis’s orders to acquire draft picks and put the franchise in decent financial standing, his future within the organization hinges on the team’s performance going forward.
Grunfeld started dismantling the roster more than two years ago and has since traded away the core of a team that made annual playoff trips in Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson.
What’s left from those altering moves?
Rashard Lewis (acquired in the Arenas deal), Trevor Booker and Emir Preldzic (Jamison deal), and some salary cap space (Butler, Haywood and Stevenson deal) that has since yielded Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford and Chris Singleton (all from the Kirk Hinrich trades).
The Wizards clearly don’t want to win very much because they desperately need the talent upgrade that comes with a high lottery pick. The team is on its fourth coach in four years — and the fifth more than likely is on the way next season — but the problem can’t all be coaching.
Coach Randy Wittman has been able to get the Wizards to play hard more consistently than his predecessor, but the team appeared to regress as it lost four consecutive games — by a combined 56 points — before the all-star break.
The Wizards have had several embarrassing moments: Andray Blatche complaining about not getting the ball in the right place after the first game; Saunders failing to notice Roger Mason Jr. wasn’t on the active roster and getting the team a technical foul by putting him in anyway; JaVale McGee’s off-the-backboard dunk while the team was losing to Houston, and his mad dash to get back on defense while the Wizards still had the ball. And they’ve had reason for concern: John Wall’s early season disenchantment and poor play; Blatche getting booed at home; and 17 losses by 10 or more points.
As the team gathers in Milwaukee to prepare for the Bucks on Tuesday, five concerns likely will be addressed. But before we look ahead, let’s look back: What stands out so far?