Presumably, Nene has no interest in attempting look-at-me dunks or making misguided attempts to pad his statistics in losses. That’s the embarrassing stuff McGee seemed to care about most.
With a career scoring average of 5.6 points, Cook doesn’t figure to contribute much. He’s a three-point specialist who hasn’t been very good at making three-pointers this season.
Even if Cook plays sparingly as expected, though, he’ll probably match Young’s rebounding production. While with the Wizards, the 6-foot-7 Young averaged only 1.9 rebounds per game. It would seem difficult for someone of that height to rebound so poorly. Still, Young made it happen.
Cook also has a solid track record of remembering instructions — at least long enough to transfer a play-call from sideline huddle to the floor.
Perhaps something will click for McGee and Young now that they’re former Wizards. Maybe they’ll grow up, gain wisdom and have great careers. If it happens, great for them, but it wasn’t going to happen in Washington, not in the Wizards’ culture of perpetual losing.
Wizards officials say Grunfeld deserves praise for making a trade that strengthened the team. He got something for McGee, a restricted free agent after the season, and Young, who will be unrestricted, and initiated a needed culture change by removing blockheads from their program.
Of course, Grunfeld drafted both players and coddled them for years, repeatedly making excuses for their missteps. “They’re young players,” he would often say.
There’s a big difference between being young and being immature and unprofessional. Grunfeld never seemed to make the distinction when commenting about McGee, Young and forward Andray Blatche, who the team unsuccessfully tried to trade for his repeated dunderheaded acts.
In the offseason, the Wizards likely will release Blatche and swallow the $23 million he’s still owed for the chance to use the league’s amnesty provision and remove his contract from the salary cap.
The decision to reward Blatche with a $28 million extension was all on Grunfeld, who chose not to take similar silly risks with McGee and Young. That’s great. He learned something after being burned, turning yet another season to toast.
And for his own failings, Grunfeld has used coaches as his fall guys.
Since the start of the 2008-09 season, Washington has had four coaches. In January, Grunfeld fired Flip Saunders after a 2-15 start. Under Randy Wittman, Saunders’s former lead assistant, Washington is 8-19. At 10-34 combined, the Wizards have the second-worst record in the NBA.
Washington’s lack of significant progress since the coaching change indicates the decision to fire Saunders was short-sighted. How could Saunders have been Washington’s biggest problem when, less the two months later, Grunfeld traded two of the players he had touted as being integral to the Wizards’ rebuilding process?
Grunfeld picks the players, which is the Wizards’ most important job, and the franchise needed him to make the McGee-Young trade. He just shouldn’t be allowed to make anymore.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns go to washingtonpost.com/reid.