Sources within the Wizards organization have denied a published report that President Ernie Grunfeld recently rejected owner Ted Leonsis’s three-year, $4.5 million proposal to stay with the franchise. Grunfeld’s contract is set to expire after this season, but team sources said he has not been offered an extension and another person with knowledge of the situation said the New York Post report was “made up.”
When asked about his contract situation at the end of last season, Grunfeld said, “I’m under contract. I’m not really even thinking about that at all ... All I’m thinking about is making this team as good as possible and continue to do the plan that we have in place.”
Grunfeld has been one of the league’s highest-paid general managers for the past five years, with league sources contending that he earns a salary between $3.5 million and $4.5 million. The salaries for general managers and coaches have dipped considerably in recent years, with teams seeking different ways to cut down costs.
Grunfeld’s future in Washington has been a highly-discussed topic among NBA executives and scouts, with many speculating that he would not return. Grunfeld has been with the franchise since leaving Milwaukee in June 2003 and the team has posted a 275-427 record in his nine seasons, making it to the playoffs four times and winning one playoff round.
The Wizards have struggled mightily in the past four seasons, losing 213 of their 292 games – easily the worst four-year stretch in franchise history – and they are set to make a fourth trip to the NBA draft lottery. They matched the worst win total for an 82-game season (19) in 2008-09 and dealt with the embarrassment of Gilbert Arenas bringing guns to the locker room, setting the franchise on the course toward rebuilding.
After landing John Wall with the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, Grunfeld recently hit yet another reboot to his plans when he traded away JaVale McGee and Nick Young in exchange for veteran big man Nene nearly two months after firing Flip Saunders, whom he hired as coach nearly three years ago.
Randy Wittman has gone 9-20 since replacing Saunders. The Wizards (11-35) have the league’s second-worst record and are 2-3 since making the trade for Nene and Brian Cook. Grunfeld has worked closely with Leonsis since Leonsis became owner in June 2010 and followed his orders to accumulate draft picks and create financial flexibility.