Despite Fifth Pick, Wizards' Grunfeld Likes Team's Draft Day Options

President Ernie Grunfeld, left, with Coach Flip Saunders, said,
President Ernie Grunfeld, left, with Coach Flip Saunders, said, "I think we'll get a very good player." (By Evan Vucci -- Associated Press)
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By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 21, 2009

Despite abundant evidence to the contrary, Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld considers himself a lucky man. Last fall, his team lost an all-star guard and a starting center to injuries that kept them out most of the year. Last month, his team concluded a regular season that tied for the worst in franchise history.

On Tuesday night at the NBA draft lottery, the Wizards lost out on the opportunity to make the No. 1 selection on June 25, despite having the second-best odds to obtain the pick. And still, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he addressed the media yesterday afternoon, Grunfeld repeatedly stated his contentment with the No. 5 selection Washington did receive.

"Once we have all our pieces out there, I think we've shown that we can compete with anyone in the league," Grunfeld said. "And we like five players in this draft. Actually, we like more than five. I think we'll get a very good player. Whether we use that player on our roster or we use that in a trade-type situation, we'll explore all our options and see where it takes us."

Grunfeld now must mull over the possibilities afforded him after the Wizards tumbled as far down on the draft board as they possibly could. Washington, which finished 19-63 this season, was guaranteed no lower than the fifth selection.

Los Angeles Clippers coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy already has stated he will select Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin with the No. 1 overall pick. Grunfeld is not so tied down.

The Wizards could keep the fifth pick. But as Grunfeld pointed out, the Wizards already possess three all-stars, and he believes Washington's current depth is above par.

"I think when you look at the players on paper we're pretty deep at every position," Grunfeld said. "So what we'll do is explore all our options out there for us, regardless of position. If we can upgrade any position, that's something we'll look at. I don't think there's a real one specific need that we really have."

Washington also could trade the pick. Grunfeld said he fielded several text messages Tuesday night and several phone calls yesterday morning from teams interested in moving into the Wizards' first-round draft slot. In 2004 -- the last time Washington held a lottery selection -- Grunfeld traded the fifth pick, Devin Harris, along with Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner to Dallas for Antawn Jamison.

"Everything's going to shake out a little bit," Grunfeld said. "Teams are exploring what their options are, just like we're exploring our options."

Grunfeld also has to consider the draft's second round, in which Washington will pick second (32nd overall). With that in mind, the Wizards hosted a workout on Monday in which guards Scottie Reynolds (Villanova), Jerel McNeal (Marquette), Lester Hudson (Tennessee-Martin) and Mike Rose (Eastern Kentucky) participated.

Washington will host workouts today and tomorrow, as well. Today's participants include Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez, as well as Jodie Meeks (Kentucky), David Huertas (Mississippi) and Marcus Thornton (Louisiana State).

As for whom the Wizards might take with the fifth overall pick -- assuming they keep it -- Grunfeld declined to discuss specific players.

"There's probably seven, eight, nine players that are going to be in that wheelhouse," Grunfeld said.


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