“When we purchased the Wizards, I felt it was necessary to revamp and change the direction of the team; Ernie has led that charge and embraced our new philosophy,” Leonsis wrote. “We have accumulated talented, young players and worked at developing them. We have acquired veteran players who can help guide the younger players and just as importantly, help us win games. We have a roster right now that features six first-round picks from the last two drafts. Under Ernie’s leadership we have almost completely turned over the Wizards roster. We are not only going to be in a position to add a lottery-pick player through the draft, but also because of the exceptional salary cap flexibility that Ernie has created, we will be able to be active in the free-agent market, if we so choose.”
The Wizards later released a statement with comments from Leonsis and Grunfeld about the move. Grunfeld said, “We’ve seen significant progress from our young players and positive contributions from our veterans that have us very optimistic about our future and very eager to take the next steps to continue to improve.”
Grunfeld will discuss the move at a noon news conference, but Leonsis will not be attendance. In his blog, Leonsis praised Grunfeld for building a team that now features John Wall and Nene, and for using advanced technology to evaluate talent. The Wizards (18-46) are headed to the lottery for the fourth consecutive season – and second time since Leonsis completed his purchase of the team in June 2010 – but he would like to see more progress going forward.
“I give credit to Ernie for putting us in this position so quickly, but, like you, I now expect the Wizards to transition from a work-in-progress to a team that competes for a playoff spot,” Leonsis wrote.