A new season kicks off this Thursday for our Washington Wizards and I have just one question to ask?
Where is the enthusiasm?
Trust me, I understand completely.
This collective apathy is a team-inflicted wound that the fans have had to endure and are showing their collective displeasure by completely not caring about this team anymore, it seems.
And it is kinda sad.
General Manager Ernie Grunfeld basically mortgaged the future of current fandom with the promises of a huge splash in free agency about three seasons ago, notably DC’s own Kevin Durant as the main target. With the influx of new money with the new TV deal (which subsequently allowed for higher team salary caps), all of the league’s teams were going to be awash with a lot of cash, not just the Wizards.
So instead of the team landing a top-tier free agent such as Durant or Al Horford for example, the team decided to spend their money by doubling up on the center position paying Ian Mahinmi a four-year $64 million dollar deal and grabbing lesser talents in Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith and Trey Burke to fill out the roster. Not exactly the splashy, franchise altering maneuvers we all expected and waited for although I am ECSTATIC to finally have 2012 draft pick Tomas Satoransky on the roster.
The team also re-signed the oft-injured but talented Bradley Beal to a five-year $128 million dollar maximum salary contract. Most league observers chuckled at the deal considering his lack of production whether it’s been injury related or not living up to lofty expectations but the team was in a no-win situation. You simply cannot just let a 25 year old shooting guard with Beal’s ability leave without receiving anything in return. . All one can hope is that he finds some way to stay reasonably healthy for the duration of the season. If he does that, he will find himself once again mentioned in the ranks of the better young perimeter players in the game today.
Last seasons bitter disappointment just rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Finishing out of the playoffs in the perennially weaker Eastern Conference was unacceptable and it cost former coach Randy Wittman his job. He was replaced former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who was relieved of his duties the year prior. Brooks isn’t highly regarded by media pundits for being particularly innovative in any form of fashion yet he should be a marked improvement from the archaic teachings of Mr. Wittman. For everything Wittman brought to the team when he took over – professionalism, an emphasis on defense – the team’s offensive playbook was just a joke. The offense basically was “Hey, let John Wall try to create everything and let the chips fall where they may.” If you look at the better teams in the league, they have elaborate sets on offense that creates easier attempts for their best players in their most optimal positions to score. Add to that the awful rosters that have been constructed by Grunfeld in his tenure, it just feels like the Wizards have wasted Wall’s early prime and that is beyond sad.
There have been grumblings that Wall is indeed unhappy with the direction of the team and he should feel exactly that. This team will again be a fringe playoff team with absolutely zero shot of competing for a NBA title unless there is some serious growth from the young talents and an overall talent infusion. Expect starting center Marcin Gortat to end up on the trading block either around the trade deadline or in the off-season. You just don’t pay $64 million for a backup center no matter how much cap room you’re blessed with.
So yes, I totally get it. The team had a very disappointing season last year and nothing happened this summer to make us feel any better about the upcoming season.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Who am I kidding…this is Washington DC sports we’re talking about.
Prove us wrong for a change and maybe, just maybe, we can feel better about the team.