Once Leonsis accepted that his house was in disrepair, which has been painfully obvious for weeks, replacing the architect should have been his opening act. Leonsis needed to begin with the person most responsible for the franchise’s long-running ineptitude: Grunfeld, the head of Washington’s basketball operation since 2003, whose contract expires after this season.
Through a team spokesman, Leonsis declined an interview request after Tuesday’s news conference at Verizon Center to introduce former assistant Randy Wittman, who has the job for the remainder of the season. No matter. There’s little Leonsis could have said to justify the weak move.
“This is a black mark on all of us,” Wittman said.
Excising Saunders from the Wizards’ dysfunctional situation is like arresting a lowly accomplice while permitting the mastermind to go free. First and foremost, this is Grunfeld’s mess, and so far, Leonsis has let him off the hook.
Even for a team in the second season of a rebuilding project, the Wizards are horrid. After watching Washington’s dispirited performance during Monday’s 103-83 blowout loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, I figured Leonsis would have to do something soon.
Remember: This was all expected, according to Leonsis. The plan was unfolding as envisioned — that was Ted’s take.
It’s fine to stay on message about your “plan.” Marketing slogans about “New Traditions” have their place. When teams exhibit little effort, as the Wizards did while going through the motions on the road and dropping to 2-15, the person ultimately in charge actually has to lead.
After Washington’s awful performance the past two seasons, and Grunfeld’s poor judgment while enabling the Wizards’ high-profile knuckleheads through the years, Leonsis needs to initiate an organizational purge. So far, he has ignored the biggest problem.
The Wizards coddle their players, offering excuses for their missteps. Each time the Wizards fire a coach, they validate their players’ repeated acts of ignorance.
Why should Andray Blatche attempt to do better when he plays in an organization that apparently places little value on accountability? How is JaVale McGee expected to learn the right way when, eight days after Saunders took issue with his showboat dunk, the coach is the one taking the blame for this disaster of a season?
Is it any wonder the players had tuned out Saunders? And when Saunders gets fired just 15 days after management declared his job safe, is it any wonder they don’t take anything seriously?