Shortly after dealing unhappy shooting guard Jordan Crawford to the Boston Celtics, Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld met with reporters to discuss the motivations behind the trade, the current direction of the team and why the third-year shooting guard was no longer a part of the team’s plans.
The Wizards have gone 11-9 in their past 20 games, claiming wins over Oklahoma City, Denver, New York, Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers. During that stretch, the Wizards are outscoring teams, 95.1-92.1, shooting 46.1 percent from the floor and 40.3 percent from three-point range, and holding opponents to just 42.9 percent shooting.
Crawford appeared in only 12 of those games, receiving little playing time. The team was 5-3 without him and had two more games when he played for less than seven minutes.
Grunfeld spoke for less than 10 minutes. Here are some of the highlights from the news conference:
On the reasons for the trade: “Our team has started to come together. Our chemistry has been real good. Our defensive intensity has improved and we’re one of the best defensive teams in the league during that stretch. We’re moving the basketball on the offensive end and we’re hoping that we can continue on that. And Jordan did not fit into our current plans for that, or our future plans. At this time, we thought it was in the best interest of everyone if we make this trade. It will be a good situation for Jordan. He might get an opportunity to go to a better team and help them and it will allow us to continue on the path that we’re trying to build in the locker room, with work ethic and team play, where everybody is on the same page and wanting to play for the same reasons. Being unselfish offensively and playing good aggressive defense.”
On why Crawford didn’t fit: “If you’ve been watching our games, he hasn’t played that much lately and over the last 20 games or so his minutes have gone down and he wanted a bigger role. It wasn’t what he really wanted in that situation and we felt like our future was going to be with John Wall, Bradley Beal. Jordan got a lot more minutes early in the season when John was out with an injury and Brad was learning. John is back obviously and Brad is starting to come on and we feel like they were going to get the majority of the minutes going forward.”
On what changed after acquiring Crawford two years ago from Atlanta: “Jordan, nothing really changed. He had some good moments, but the way we’re playing now is a lot different than then. Now we’re a defensive oriented team and our numbers especially over the last 20 games have shown that we’re one of the top defensive teams in the league. The ball movement has been really good recently and that’s helped us win some games. The players are playing the right way and trying to execute. They’ve been supportive of one another and it just seems like it wasn’t the perfect fit for Jordan at this time.”
On where the team is headed: “It remains to be seen. We’re excited about the second half of the year. It’s good to have a full roster of healthy players, players that are buying into what we’re trying to do. Obviously, our defense as I said before has been top notch the past 20 games and we have to continue on that path, try to improve on that. Offensively there is good ball movement and we’re starting to get a good rotation. Our players are buying into what we’re trying to do and we want to improve. Since John came back and our other players got healthy, [Trevor] Booker, Trevor Ariza and A.J. Price – actually all four of them came back close to one another. Since we’ve had the full roster, we’ve played some solid basketball. We’ll continue to play that solid basketball and improve. As the second half has gone on, it gives a real good chance to evaluate what we have and what still need to add. We’re not where want to be by any means, but I think we’ve shown improvement and want to continue to improve.”
On whether the team is starting to match his vision, now that John Wall is back: “I think we’re headed in that direction. We’ve played some good teams and beaten some good teams, not only here but we got some nice wins on the road. This is sort of what we envisioned and we have to continue to grow with it and we have to continue to improve and see how the whole thing kind of comes together over the second half of the year so we know exactly what to do to improve in the offseason.”
On the role improved health has played in the turnaround: “I think it’s shown that when [we] got healthy our record got a lot better. Not only our record, but the way [we] played got better and our competitive attitude and the way we played the game got better. Twenty games is a short sample, but it shows you something. For a guy like John to come back after not having played four months, he still has a little bit of rust on him and he’s getting that off of him. He’s been very competitive and he’s made players around him better. Bradley is going into the second half of the year. He has 40, 50 games under his belt, His game has risen a little bit, he’s been more consistent, he’s learning. But he still has a lot of work ahead of him just like all our players do. Nene still having a little nagging injury here and there, but he’s been out there battling. [Emeka] Okafor’s been consistent. A lot of positive things have happened but by no means are we satisfied with where we are.”