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Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing

Moderators: LyricalRico, pineappleheadindc, WizStorm, nate33, miller31time

IS IT TIME TO FIRE ERNIE GRUNFELD?

1) Yes, I believe it is time for EG to go now.
29
69%
2) Ted should let him go at the end of the season.
9
21%
3) No, Ted needs to give him more time..(DESPITE THE FACT ERNIE HAS BEEN GM SINCE 2003)
4
10%
 
Total votes : 42

Post#61 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:13 pm by rockymac52

Can we start talking about who potential replacements might be? Or who we want them to be?

Let's get a list going so we can start this discussion and analysis as soon as possible.

Do we have a strong preference one way or another between hiring/promoting from within or hiring from outside the organization?

Obviously it can be hard to really know who some of the up and coming GM candidates may be, because most of us don't have the luxury of being inside the NBA circles, so there's likely going to be a lot of speculation here, but let's make the most of what we've got.

The way I see it, once we fire Ernie (whether mid-season, after this year, or God forbid, in a future year), we have 4 main options:
1. Promote from within the organization
2. Hire another team's current GM
3. Hire a former GM
4. Hire an up-and-coming front office executive from another team

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the actual GM we end up with, and not which one of these categories he happens to fall in, obviously. However, I just thought it might be helpful to talk about those categories in general, as well.
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Post#62 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:24 pm by rockymac52

For reference, here's a list of all of the current NBA GMs.

Note that each organization has different structures, and the guy listed here might not be the guy you consider to be the "GM", but this is who HoopsHype has listed. For example, this list has Rod Higgins listed as the Bobcats GM. According to the Bobcats' staff directory, Higgins is officially the President of Basketball Operations. Rich Cho is listed as their General Manager. I'm not going to get nit-picky here, I'm just using HoopsHype's list, for convenience.

Atlanta: Danny Ferry (Rick Sund)
Boston: Danny Ainge
Brooklyn: Billy King
Charlotte: Rod Higgins (Rich Cho)
Chicago: John Paxson (Gar Forman)
Cleveland: Chris Grant
Dallas: Donnie Nelson
Denver: Masai Ujiri
Detroit: Joe Dumars
Golden State: Bob Myers
Houston: Daryl Morey
Indiana: Donnie Walsh (Kevin Pritchard)
LA Clippers: Gary Sacks
LA Lakers: Mitch Kupchak
Memphis: Chris Wallace
Miami: Pat Riley
Milwaukee: John Hammond
Minnesota: David Kahn
New Orleans: Dell Demps
New York: Glen Grunwald
Oklahoma City: Sam Presti
Orlando: Rob Hennigan
Philadelphia: Tony DiLeo (Rod Thorn)
Phoenix: Lon Babby
Portland: Neil Olshey
Sacramento: Geoff Petrie
San Antonio: RC Buford
Toronto: Bryan Colangelo
Utah: Kevin O'Connor (Dennis Lindsey)
Washington: Ernie Grunfeld

Again, there's about 5 teams or so that have another guy that comes to mind when you think of their GM. So don't forget that or make a big deal about it.

EDIT: Nevermind, I'm just going to add the name of those guys who might be considered the GM or who used to be but now have other roles for the same team and are possibly very heavily involved in the decision-making process in parentheses. I'm doing these off the top of my head, so let me know if I forgot anyone.
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Post#63 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:39 pm by Chocolate City Jordanaire

rockymac52 wrote:Can we start talking about who potential replacements might be? Or who we want them to be?

Let's get a list going so we can start this discussion and analysis as soon as possible.

Do we have a strong preference one way or another between hiring/promoting from within or hiring from outside the organization?

Obviously it can be hard to really know who some of the up and coming GM candidates may be, because most of us don't have the luxury of being inside the NBA circles, so there's likely going to be a lot of speculation here, but let's make the most of what we've got.

The way I see it, once we fire Ernie (whether mid-season, after this year, or God forbid, in a future year), we have 4 main options:
1. Promote from within the organization
2. Hire another team's current GM
3. Hire a former GM
4. Hire an up-and-coming front office executive from another team

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the actual GM we end up with, and not which one of these categories he happens to fall in, obviously. However, I just thought it might be helpful to talk about those categories in general, as well.


There needs to be something done soon, but it will probably have to be an interim solution. The GM this team ends up with might be fully committed to another team.

Also, the thing I think that is more important than the GM is actually who coaches the team. Mitch Kupchak wasn't coaching the Lakers, Mike Brown was. His decision to hire D'Antoni and not Phil Jackson, is going to come down to who the best coach is.

If I were in Ted Leonsis' shoes, I wouldn't want to have a GM who will bring in a crony or a bad coach. I would want to have the say who the next coach is; and I wouldn't hire a GM who had a huge issue with that mandate/precedent.
Will the Wizards' success be sustained or was it fool's gold?
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Post#64 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:07 pm by rockymac52

I'm also going to compile a list here of people who were reported to be candidates for some of the recent GM openings throughout the league. Just so we might get a better idea of who some of the up-and-coming GMs might be. I'll put the person's name after the team that reportedly was interested in him. Keep in mind this is just based on the media reports that I can find, and there's no guaranteeing how serious the team was about actually hiring these people as GM, or what other names that went unreported. I'll also try to add their current position in parentheses. Also, I'm not going to repeat candidates. So if several teams were reportedly interested in one guy, I'm only going to list him once (under whichever team I happen to list first).

76ers:
Sam Hinkie (Rockets Executive VP of Basketball Operations)
Mike Zarren (Celtics Assistant GM and Team Counsel)
Jeff Bower (former Hornets GM)
Tom Penn (former Trail Blazers Assistant GM)

Clippers:
Kiki Vandeweghe (former Nuggets and Nets GM)
David Griffin (Cavaliers VP of Basketball Operations)
Mark Warkentien (former Nuggets GM)
Jeff Weltman (Bucks Assistant GM)
John Nash (former Trail Blazers GM)
Scott Perry (Magic VP/Assistant GM)
David Morway (former Pacers GM)
Ronnie Lester (former Lakers Assistant GM)
Travis Schlenk (Warriors Assistant GM/Director of Player Personnel)
Tony Ronzone (Mavericks Director of Player Personnel)

Magic:
Adonal Foyle (former Magic Director of Player Development - fired after new GM hired)
Troy Weaver (Thunder VP/Assistant GM)
Ryan McDonough (Celtics Assistant GM)
Shaq (I still don't believe he was actually considered, so listing his name here is more than generous)



Feel free to add other teams' recent GM searches to this list, or to add any candidates for these teams that I may have missed.
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Post#65 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:23 pm by rockymac52

Chocolate City Jordanaire wrote:There needs to be something done soon, but it will probably have to be an interim solution. The GM this team ends up with might be fully committed to another team.


I've commented on the topic of firing Ernie mid-season or waiting until after the season several times in the past few days, and I'm still torn. Obviously, if we know we're done with him, it makes sense for everyone involved to just get it over with and cut ties with him now. However, what we do after that isn't quite as clear. And I don't mean that in the sense of who we should hire to replace him, I mean that in the sense of whether to hire/promote an interim GM to finish out this season or to hire the long-term replacement GM mid-season. I'm still not sure where I stand.

If it is possible contracts-wise, in a legal sense, to hire our new GM, even though he currently holds another position with another NBA team, mid-season, then perhaps that's the right move. But I'm also concerned about how much of a mess things will be from an organizational structure standpoint if a mid-season hire from outside the organization is made. In an ideal situation, I'd like to be able to hire a new guy, and let him implement his policies and structure from day one, with no confusion. I'm afraid if someone is hired mid-season, and they want to make some large-scale organizational changes in the front office structure and strategy, that it may be hard to do "overnight". It would be much easier to do this in the offseason.

However, while it might take a new GM a longer time to fully implement his structure if he's hired mid-season than it would if he was hired in the offseason, I think it's pretty safe to say that those changes will probably be made sooner if they happen mid-season, as far as the ultimate end date of when they're all finalized and implemented. So again, I'm not sure what to think.

I'm inclined to think that I prefer hiring a new GM in the offseason, just so we can truly start fresh, and get the entire organization on the same page, from top to bottom. I feel like trying to do this mid-season will result in either 1. not making all of the changes the GM would ideally like to make, just because it's more complicated in-season and sacrifices need to be made or 2. all of the changes are made, but it leaves our entire organization in a mess for the duration of this season. I'm tired of all of the messes. For once, I want something to be "clean".

I see it as similar to hiring a new coach mid-season. Okay, your current coach isn't getting things done, and deserves to be fired come December or January. So you fire him. Seems logical and fair. Then you hire the guy that you see as best for the job from outside the organization. Makes sense (ALTHOUGH, I'd like to quickly add that I feel like we'd limit the pool of potential replacements - either coaches or GMs - simply by doing it mid-season because they're likely already busy with their current team, and don't want any distractions, as they're thinking about their current job/team, and not their potential future with us). But this new coach you hire has an entirely different system. His system is better, and it will make our team a lot better, but there are a lot of drastic changes that will need to be made. How can you reasonably expect this coach to show up mid-season and quickly (if not immediately) make all of these big changes, teaching the new system to the players to the best of his ability, while also continuing to coach and compete in the current season?!? It seems next to impossible.

In that regard, I'm curious as to the history of success with mid-season interim head coaches. How many end up doing well? How many kept the job past that year? How many ran completely different systems than their predecessor?

I don't want to try and take any shortcuts. If we're done with Ernie, then I want a fresh face, who sees and does things differently. And I want to give that guy the opportunity to implement what he believes in the RIGHT way, which feels like the offseason to me.
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Post#66 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:25 pm by montestewart

Thanks for all the research, rockymac52. Maybe it merits a separate thread, with your lists and other information as a foundation.
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Post#67 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:25 pm by Knighthonor

What I find funny is many of you Wizards fans at the start of the season, were saying how much this team would be a runner for the playoffs. So clearly, many of you agreed with EG's choices, to say something like that.

but now that it backfired, you all turned your back on EG, when many of you agreed with his decisions, by saying this team was a playoff team.

lol
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Post#68 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:30 pm by AFM

I think the consensus was that a team with Wall + Nene healthy could contend for the 8th seed (if that's not a depressing sentence, I don't know what is). I don't think fans of other teams ever use the phrase "contend for the 8th seed".
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Post#69 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:33 pm by montestewart

Knighthonor wrote:What I find funny is many of you Wizards fans at the start of the season, were saying how much this team would be a runner for the playoffs. So clearly, many of you agreed with EG's choices, to say something like that.

but now that it backfired, you all turned your back on EG, when many of you agreed with his decisions, by saying this team was a playoff team.

lol

Wrong again, Mr. Maladroit. Do you even read what other people write?
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Post#70 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:33 pm by rockymac52

Chocolate City Jordanaire wrote:Also, the thing I think that is more important than the GM is actually who coaches the team. Mitch Kupchak wasn't coaching the Lakers, Mike Brown was. His decision to hire D'Antoni and not Phil Jackson, is going to come down to who the best coach is.


I disagree with you as far as the importance of the coach over the GM. I'm sure many people here will fall on different sides of that debate, and it's hard to quantify the real answer. I'm not trying to discount the importance of having a good head coach, AT ALL. Coaching is obviously a very important aspect of the game, and having a great coach can make an otherwise bad team a lot better, and the opposite is probably true as well.

I'm just saying, I'd rather have a great GM than a great coach. Unless you believe that almost all of the GMs are basically equal in ability, and that they'd all make the same moves for the most part, and that their personnel decisions are largely based on luck of the draw, as far as how their team's roster is already made up and how good they are. And if you believe anything along those lines (that almost all GMs are equal in skill/ability), then there's probably no need to fire Ernie in the first place.

Not to mention that a great GM will probably hire a better coach than a bad GM would. Right?


Chocolate City Jordanaire wrote:If I were in Ted Leonsis' shoes, I wouldn't want to have a GM who will bring in a crony or a bad coach. I would want to have the say who the next coach is; and I wouldn't hire a GM who had a huge issue with that mandate/precedent.


Can't say that I disagree. Can't imagine anyone would really disagree with any of that. I get the impression that Ted currently contributes his opinions in the decision-making process, and that he'd like to do that in the future, but I think he recognizes his own limitations quite well, and lets the basketball guys do their jobs. It's not like he's an early 2000s Dan Snyder or anything like that. I'm glad Ted is as informed as he is. He genuinely seems to understand a lot of the intricacies of putting together a winning team, and there's no doubt in my mind that he wants to see us succeed on the court just as much, if not more, than we do.
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Post#71 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:09 am by rockymac52

Knighthonor wrote:What I find funny is many of you Wizards fans at the start of the season, were saying how much this team would be a runner for the playoffs. So clearly, many of you agreed with EG's choices, to say something like that.

but now that it backfired, you all turned your back on EG, when many of you agreed with his decisions, by saying this team was a playoff team.

lol


You know, I've been thinking about this a lot in the past week or so.

Here's the thing. We all know that the Wall and Nene injuries are unfortunate, to say the least. We all also know that this team (and any team in the league, for that matter) will be better once we add Wall and Nene to the active roster. There's plenty of room for debate as to just how much better we'll be with one or both of them, but that's not the point here. They are undoubtedly the best two players on our team right now, and it obviously hurts us that they're not playing right now.

In the offseason there were a lot of us who began to buy into the possibility of this team (a HEALTHY team with Wall and Nene) going about .500 and making the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed. That felt good. We knew it involved some optimism here and there, but it felt like a real possibility. I stand by that sentiment.

However, without Wall and Nene, there's no denying that this team is bad. We have a lot of issues, both individually and collectively. We have to keep in mind that if we didn't have Wall and Nene on our roster in the first place, and our team that's played the first 7 games was our actual full-strength team, that none of of us would be predicting anything close to a .500 team or the playoffs. We'd be in consensus that we're a bottom 5 team, no doubt.

So we knew we'd be bad, real bad, without Wall and Nene in the lineup. Many of us were expecting to go like 3-10 or something along those lines, while they were out. But staring a win-less record, especially after losing badly to the BOBCATS, hurts. It's very, very, very hard to swallow. Even if we keep in mind we're playing without our best two players. It's not easy, and it's not what we wanted to see.

Many of us weren't fans of Ernie before this season, even if we thought this team could be decent. But I think some of the Ernie supporters, myself included, have decided after this terrible start to the season that enough is enough. It has reached the point where it's nearly impossible to argue otherwise.




I'd also like to add something that I've wondered about recently, and it involves what you said about how many of us supported Ernie's moves this summer, and at different points in the past, but that we now have changed our minds and want him fired.

For years, I have considered myself a true DC optimist. Some might call me a homer, but I found that I was always able to backup my opinions with logical arguments justifying why our team or a certain player could/would be good. I'm an optimist at heart, I can't help it.

For years I've also supported Ernie, arguing that he doesn't deserve the bad rep and hate many Wizards fans have given him over the years. Whenever we got into arguments about whether or not Ernie has been a good GM, and whether he deserves to keep the job, people often would list out all of his moves (draft picks, trades, free agents, extensions, etc.) and analyze them one by one. Some good, some bad, in retrospect.

But what I found very interesting, is that at the time the moves were made, I was always in support of them. I supported some moves more than others. Some moves took me a day or two to come to terms with, and eventually understand why Ernie made the move that he did. Even if I didn't think it was a great move that was going to vastly improve our team, I would be able to justify why we did it, and the upside or low-risk it might have had.

I think when you look back on all of Ernie's moves in their entirety, that while some might stand out as good or bad in retrospect, if you remember what the state of the team and the players in question were at the time the move was made, they'll always be at least reasonable and understandable.

So for years I supported Ernie in large part because of this fact. I couldn't point out hardly any of his moves that turned out to be bad, and that were also clearly a bad idea at the time they were made. As a result, I formed the opinion that Ernie was making reasonable moves, and that some didn't work out for one reason or another, but that I couldn't blame him for the moves that he made at the time that he made them, and thus, he was doing a good (or at least, adequate) job.

This brings me to two conclusions.

1. An adequate job is not good enough to win in this league (duh). You have to be better than the vast majority of your peers. Doing what everyone else is doing will not result in wins. It will result in an average team, AT BEST.

2. While many, if not all, of Ernie's moves in the past were reasonable and understandable at the time they were made, none (or not nearly enough of them) were great moves. A GM that constantly makes reasonable moves is a good thing. You certainly don't want a GM that makes unreasonable moves. Ernie made reasonable moves. That's why he's been able to keep his job for 10 years, despite a serious lack of success. But making reasonable moves is simply not enough. In addition to making reasonable moves, a good GM must making, well, good moves. That is, not moves that are of fair value or marginal gains, but moves that have a significant positive impact.

Ernie was too safe. Sometimes risks need to be taken. Playing it safe will not result in a championship contending team. What it will do, apparently, is allow you to keep your job for a decade. Can't blame Ernie in that sense, if his goal was merely to keep his job for as long as he could. But if his goal was genuinely to win a championship, or to even get close to it, then he clearly hasn't done a good job, and IMO, he didn't give it a very good effort.

To succeed (as in, to win a championship), a GM needs to be willing to think outside the box, and make a game-changing move or two to put his team in the position to do so. Think big. Don't think about each decision on its own. Think several years down the road. Get creative. Make a series of moves that allows us to land a superstar, which allows us to compete for a championship. Be bold. Work your ass off until you find that solution.

You think Pat Riley and the HEAT landed LeBron and Bosh because the cards happened to fall in their favor, and they happened to have cap space in the year that LeBron and Bosh happened to be free agents? You think that was all a coincidence? You think Riley realized a few months before that he had the chance to land LeBron and Bosh, so he made a couple moves to get the HEAT cap room, and the rest is history?

HELL NO!

That was a perfectly executed long-term plan and the truest form of a game-changer as there is. Think big. Sure, be realistic about where our team is and how we're perceived, and our limitations, but think big. Remember, ultimately, the GM's job is to bring a championship trophy back to Washington, D.C. That doesn't happen because of luck. That doesn't happen because of a series of safe moves. That happens because of a vision and a commitment to create a dominant team. We have not seen that in DC as long as I've been alive. There's lots of qualities that I'd like in our next GM, but at the moment, the number one quality that I want to see in our next GM is a commitment, desire, and passion to put together a championship team.
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Post#72 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:02 am by rockymac52

Correct me if you feel that I'm wrong in saying this, but I believe that IF the Wizards choose to promote from within the organization, the man who will get the job is Tommy Sheppard, our current VP of Basketball Administration.

He's been with us for 10 years. I believe several people on here, such as Nivek, have spoken highly of Sheppard in the past.

He's also been mentioned and interviewed for other GM openings throughout the league over the years. Here's a few links that I found supporting that:

http://basketball.realgm.com/wiretap/18 ... tes_To_Two
That's right, the Sonics/Thunder GM opening in 2007 came down to Sam Presti and Tommy Sheppard. Didn't know that. Cool factoid.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5428438
In 2010, Sheppard was in the mix with the Suns.

http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_ ... ferry-back
In 2010, Sheppard was also in the mix with the Nuggets.



So there's been interest in him in the past.

I've never met him, and I honestly can't say anything either positive of negative about him. It's not my place to do so, because I simply don't know what he's like, what he's about, what he knows, or anything that would matter in a GM candidate. All I know is that he's been heavily involved in our front office during Ernie's tenure. Now, that doesn't mean he's an Ernie clone, or that he thinks and acts like Ernie. We can't just assume he's the same or even similar to Ernie, just because he's been right by his side over the years. I mean, for all we know, he's been arguing with Ernie about every single move we've made for the last 10 years, and he's a basketball genius, but Ernie hasn't taken his advice in the past. Then again, maybe he's agreed with everything Ernie's done. I just don't know. (Note: this "I just don't know" issue is going to come up with pretty much every candidate who hasn't been a GM before, unfortunately)

However, all of that aside, if we do decide to fire Ernie, I don't think we should hire Sheppard. Let me stress that this is nothing against him as a person or a basketball mind. Again, for all I know, he may be a genius, and truly the best man for the job.

What I'm saying here, is that if we decide that the state of the franchise has become so bad that we need to fire Ernie, then I simply don't want to see an in-house hire/promotion. And the reality is that the vast majority of fans won't either. Even if Sheppard is truly the best candidate, the public and everyone outside of the Wizards organization and the inner NBA circles won't know that. It will not feel like things have changed. It will leave a stale taste in our mouths once again. More of the same, nothing new. We need something new. If the Wizards are convinced that Sheppard is 100% definitely the best man for the job, and that he is, in fact, going to bring something new to the organization and lead us to a championship, then I suppose that's the right move to make. But if they make that move, then they better be SURE it's the right one.

The fan-base deserves someone new and refreshing. Even if the differences in how they run the organization aren't actually that different than what's gone on in the past, it will at least feel like it's different/better/new to the fans. We need that. Optimism and hope of the fan-base needs to be restored. Not more of the same. Please!
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Post#73 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:04 am by rockymac52

rockymac52 wrote:The way I see it, once we fire Ernie (whether mid-season, after this year, or God forbid, in a future year), we have 4 main options:
1. Promote from within the organization
2. Hire another team's current GM
3. Hire a former GM
4. Hire an up-and-coming front office executive from another team


Quoting myself here, but I wanted to give my input on which of these options I prefer, at least at the moment.

Option 1: Promote from within the organization
If you couldn't tell by my last post, I'm not a fan of this operation. Again, I have nothing against Tommy Sheppard or any of the other current Wizards front office executives. For all I know we have a future stud GM already on our team in-the-waiting. But just for the sake of the fan-base, I don't think this is a good option. If we're going to fire Ernie, then we need to do this thing the right way, and that's going to require a fresh start, from top to bottom. I'd honestly lose any hope I had in this franchise if we ended up promoting from within. The fan and optimist in me would inevitably eventually buy into the new GM, and I'd still support the team, but man oh man, when the news breaks that we hired from within I'm going to be SMH for a good hour, at the very least. It would be the ultimate let-down. Please, just let the fans at least be excited when the new GM is announced. It's a good thing for the organization. We need it.

Option 2: Hire another team's current GM
This one's kinda hard to analyze. Obviously there are other GMs currently in this league that I would love to see running our team. But it's hard to predict who's even potentially available. I'm going to operate from the mindset that we won't be able to lure another team's current GM away from them, unless he's one who hasn't had much success, in which case, I almost definitely don't want him here. Would I like to see RC Buford leave San Antonio and become the Wizards GM in the near future? Yes. Obviously yes. But I'm not going to get my hopes up of anything like that happening, and frankly it's not worth our time even considering it, at least until a specific name is mentioned publicly as a possibility. I don't see this option happening when it's all said and done, and for the most part, I don't want it to happen (unless one of the more highly-regarded GMs shocks the world and chooses to leave their current job to come to DC).

Option 3: Hire a former GM
The thing about former GMs is that they were either fired, not re-signed, or they stepped down. If they were fired, it was almost definitely because they weren't doing a good job. There are surely some exceptions and extenuating circumstances, but for the most part, this is not a good sign. If they were not re-signed, well, let's be real, they were essentially fired. Same story. If they stepped down, it all depends on the circumstances. Are they getting up there in age and it was basically a retirement? If that's the case, I'll pass, even if they're a legendary GM, because they clearly aren't in it for the long-haul, and we need someone who is. If they stepped down because of some scandal (don't know if this has ever happened, just throwing it out there as a possible reason a GM might step down), that's almost definitely a bad sign. But maybe they stepped down because of personal reasons, or they wanted to spend more time with their family, or they didn't get along with the owner for one reason or another. There's plenty of quality reasons someone might have stepped down. So if there's a good reason, then I'm all ears to the possibility. However, as a large generalization, I don't think I want hire a former GM.

If they were a bad GM before, then I don't want them. I want to hire someone who could potentially be a great GM. A guy who already had his shot, and failed, isn't likely to be great, in my opinion. A guy who already has his shot, and was decent, but not good enough to keep his job? I'll pass. That's what I'm afraid of though. It reminds me of Ernie Grunfeld. It reminds me of how he hadn't really had much success in the past when we hired him. It reminds me of the 10 years without much success that he's put us through here. He hasn't been awful, by any means. But he hasn't been GOOD. And being good is what it's all about. I'm very concerned that we'll take a guy similar to Grunfeld in this sense, who has experience being a GM, and was decent at his job, but just not great. These types of guys know what they're talking about, and are able to tell owners what went wrong last time and how they'll theoretically fix it. It's a compelling argument. One that might sound very appealing to an owner. I just hope Ted doesn't get fooled by somebody like this.

One guy who comes to mind is Jeff Bower. Bower used to be the GM of the Hornets. He made some good moves while he was there (traded Baron Davis to the Warriors, then drafted Chris Paul - this move alone is better than anything Ernie has done for us in 10 years, sadly). But he made plenty of bad ones too. Hence, why he was fired. When I was looking up all of the candidates for recent GM openings earlier tonight, I think his name was mentioned most frequently. Now, it's a good sign that several different teams were interested in Bower recently. However, it's also a bad sign that none of them ended up hiring him. To me, that means he's a decent candidate. He knows what he's talking about because he's had plenty of experience, and he's a decent amount of success. But it sounds like he's not great. I want a great GM, not a decent GM. Maybe there's more to Bower than meets the eye here, and I'm open to the possibility if we really believe he's the best man for the job, but color me skeptical.

So as a whole, I'm not very keen on option 3. I like it better than options 1 and 2 (assuming we can't get an established good GM from another team), but I'm not thrilled with it. Sadly, from what we've seen from the Wizards organization in the past, I can't help but feel like this is the option that we'll end up going with.

Option 4: Hire an up-and-coming front office executive from another team
I like this option. However, the caveat is that I can't speak to any individual candidates who fall into this section, and it's far from a sure-thing. I like the IDEA of this option. I'd like to imagine that there's several amazing future GMs that are currently in smaller roles with other teams. There most likely are. The tough part is finding them, and then convincing them to come to DC. If we can manage to identify these guys, and we like what we hear from them, and they're ready to take over in DC, then great. Sign me up. But like I said, this option is far from a sure-thing. And even if it sounds good on paper, we likely won't know if it's a good hire for quite some time. I'm okay with patiently waiting to evaluate that, but I'm just saying, we won't know for sure for a while.

However, I can't help but think about two similar situations that make me hesitant to fully buy into this option. First, you know how many NBA fans (and GMs too, sadly) would prefer to sign/draft a player whose current skill/talent is unknown or unimpressive, but is widely-thought of as having a ton of "potential", instead of a player who we already know is decent, but not great, just because the prior player has this "potential"? I think most of us can agree that more often than not, teams are ultimately better off with the guy who's decent, but not getting any better, than the unknown quantity with freakish athleticism and endless "potential". Sure, there are exceptions, but I feel like most of the time these projects or "raw" players don't actually end up being even halfway decent. Now, when it comes to a GM, I've already made it clear that I want someone who's going to be great, not just someone who's average. So maybe this example doesn't really fit in this situation. Ernie is, for the most part, average. Would we be better off with an unknown quantity (another team's assistant GM)? That guy is a mystery. He could turn out to be awful. He could be way worse than Ernie ever was. He could run this team even further into the ground. But, he could also be the best GM in the entire league. Since he hasn't had a shot at running a team yet in the past, we just don't know. So there's hope that he could be great. So what do we do?

My second example that this all reminded me of is a little different. If you couldn't tell by my posts in the past or my avatar, I'm a Mizzou fan. About a year and a half ago, our basketball coach, Mike Anderson, abruptly left our program to go coach at Arkansas. There's a lot more to the story, but for our purposes here, that's all that matters. He left, and we were all of a sudden in need of a new coach. We reached out to a few bigger names, and we ended up with our sights set on Matt Painter, Purdue's coach. There were reports he was on the verge of coming to Mizzou, but then he backed out last minute. The search was becoming a mess. It was almost embarrassing. Then, out of nowhere, it was announced that we hired Frank Haith. Haith was the Miami coach at the time, and had been for the last 6 years or so. He wasn't even on our radar, so it was a total shock. Haith hadn't had any success at Miami. I think he made the NCAA Tournament once in his tenure there, and they definitely didn't make a deep run or anything. Miami, as I'm sure know, is pretty much the worst team in the ACC, year in and year out. Almost all of our fans were not only confused about the hire, but downright upset. I'll admit, I was surprised at first as well, and wasn't thrilled by any means. But the optimist and supporter in me looked at it on the bright side, and after a few days I was on board with the hire.

Shortly thereafter, I got into a long debate with a buddy of mine about the hire. I made excuses about Haith's past performance at Miami, citing the school's huge lack of a commitment and support given to the basketball program (this was/is very true). I argued that Haith would be a talented recruiter, and that our team, which was left with 0 recruits (thanks a lot, Anderson), filled with a short roster of only 8 guys, 6 of which were seniors, would be good enough to compete in the meantime. What's more interesting, though, is what my friend was arguing. After I told him that I understood he didn't like Haith, and asked him who he would have preferred we sign instead, of coaches who we actually realistically could have signed, his response was that he would have preferred we sign a young, unproven coach from a mid-major conference, most likely the Missouri Valley Conference, simply because they were young and at least had the "potential" to be a great coach. This came right after Brad Stevens led Butler to the finals 2 years in a row, so undoubtedly that had some influence on his point of view. Anyways, I told him that I understood the sentiment, and that I knew it was fairly common for a young coach to lead his mid-major team to the NCAA Tournament, and then if he upset one or two teams, or put up a good showing, he'd be next in line to get an open major conference job. It happens year after year. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Anyways, he wanted to take a shot on one of these guys, simply because they were young and MIGHT be good. I was baffled at how stupid and irrational that was. He insisted Haith was terrible and that Mizzou would win 16 games and miss the tournament at best the next season. Well, we won 30 games, won the Big 12 Tournament, and got a #2 seed in the tournament. (Let's not talk about what happened next :x )

Now, my point here (and I realize I got really off topic) is not that I'm smart for being right in this one instance about Haith. My point is that the younger, unknown quantity, is not necessarily better just because they COULD be good. To be fair, who knows how good Mizzou would have been if we did what he wanted and hired some young MVC coach - maybe we would have gone undefeated? Anyways, I just think it's something we should keep in mind when considering hiring another team's younger Assistant GM. He might be great, but he might be terrible. Just because he hasn't been a GM before doesn't mean he's likely to be good once we give him a shot.

But again, overall, this is probably my favorite option. Unfortunately it's also the one option where I REALLY can't say who the right man for the job is, because we haven't seen them in action yet. Maybe the team he's been on recently has made some great moves, and he supposedly had a big hand in some of them, but who really knows how involved he was? I have seen at least 10 front office executives been given credit for drafting the likes of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden, and the like. I can believe that many people were involved in the decision and provided some very helpful input, but let's not get too excited just because we hear that one guy was important in drafting that guy. We just don't know how it actually went down.




In summary, here's my order of preference, generally speaking:
1. Hire an up-and-coming front office executive from another team
2. Hire a former GM
3. Hire another team's current GM
4. Promote from within the organization
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Post#74 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:12 am by rockymac52

I'm staying up real late tonight to work on a memo that's due Monday, so I'll probably be distracting myself every now and then to post more in this thread. I realize most of you are probably asleep, and you'll wake up to a series of long posts by me, but I want to document my thoughts, and I think several of you will genuinely enjoy reading them if you take the time to do so. But if not, sorry in advance.

Anyways, I just did a little research about other current GMs around the league. Here's a couple things I discovered that I found interesting:

Ernie Grunfeld is the 7th longest-tenured GM in the NBA.

Let's take a look at the 6 GMs that have had their job longer than him real quick.

6. Danny Ainge: Celtics
Ainge has made the playoffs 7 times in 9 seasons. He has won 1 championship.

5. RC Buford: Spurs
Buford has made the playoffs 10 times in 10 seasons. He has won 3 championships.

4. Mitch Kupchak: Lakers
Kupchak has made the playoffs 11 times in 12 seasons. He has won 4 championships.

3. Joe Dumars: Pistons
Dumars has made the playoffs 8 times in 12 seasons. He has won 1 championship.

2. Pat Riley: HEAT
Riley has made the playoffs 14 times in 17 seasons. He has won 2 championships.

1. Geoff Petrie: Kings
Petrie has made the playoffs 9 times in 18 seasons.


Clearly an impressive list. Petrie is definitely the outlier, even though he's had the job longer than anybody in the NBA. He's also probably on the verge of being fired, seeing as the Kings have been declining for the last 7 or 8 years.

How does Ernie Grunfeld stack up?
Grunfeld has made the playoffs 4 times in 9 seasons. The best record any of his teams had was 45-37, which was also the only team in his tenure to make it past the first round in the playoffs (they then got swept 4-0 in the 2nd round).


I'm only saying what we all already know, but Grunfeld has NOT been good as the Wizards GM. It's amazing how long he has been able to hold onto the job. If it weren't for the Kings being way too loyal to Petrie thanks to a run of some GREAT Kings teams about 10 years ago, he'd definitely be long gone, and Grunfeld would stand out in this list even more.
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Post#75 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:17 am by rockymac52

Some other quick hits from what I just looked up:

This summer 8 teams hired a new GM.
15 GMs have had their current position for 3 years or less (this being their 3rd season at most).


This is proof that the Wizards have kept Ernie Grunfeld for way too long. Most NBA teams demand results. The Wizards have not. Why does our organization accept mediocrity?
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Post#76 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:29 am by Benjammin

rockymac52 wrote:Some other quick hits from what I just looked up:

This summer 8 teams hired a new GM.
15 GMs have had their current position for 3 years or less (this being their 3rd season at most).


This is proof that the Wizards have kept Ernie Grunfeld for way too long. Most NBA teams demand results. The Wizards have not. Why does our organization accept mediocrity?


They don't accept mediocrity. They don't even get mediocrity. Mediocrity would be another 70+ wins over the last nine years. For me, mediocrity is .500. EG is far from that lofty goal.
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Post#77 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:31 am by closg00

A great series of posts by Rocky, thanks! I will only add that when Ernie's contract was up for renewal, no other teams is known to have attempted to scoop him up. Contrast that with what happened with the assistants from successful organizations - the Spurs etc, they all got courted.
Guys on a message board could do a better job managing the Wizards than Ernie Grunfeld.
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Post#78 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:03 am by Nivek

Knighthonor wrote:What I find funny is many of you Wizards fans at the start of the season, were saying how much this team would be a runner for the playoffs. So clearly, many of you agreed with EG's choices, to say something like that.

but now that it backfired, you all turned your back on EG, when many of you agreed with his decisions, by saying this team was a playoff team.

lol


In some cases, you're probably right. There are folks who approved of Ernie's moves, who are now highly critical.

In other cases, you're mistaking analysis for approval. I hated Grunfeld's offseason moves, but when projecting the team's record still came to the conclusion that they would win 37 games this season. Predicting that they'd be in contention for the 8th playoff spot wasn't approval of Grunfeld's roster moves, it was analysis that the moves he made gave them the possibility of getting to the playoffs.
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Post#79 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:22 am by Nivek

Rocky -- great series of posts. Here are some thoughts on a few of the candidates I'm familiar with:

  • Mike Zarren -- smart as hell numbers guy in Boston; one of the organizers for the Sloan stat conference
  • Tom Penn -- another numbers guy; really understands the salary cap
  • Mark Warkentein -- hired Dean Oliver as his director of quantitative analysis, but then traded Billups for Iverson
  • John Nash -- astonishing that Nash would be in consideration for any job considering how he basically ran three teams into the ground (Washington, Philadelphia, Portland); Wizards would actually be downgrading at GM if they replaced Grunfeld with Nash
  • David Morway -- not someone who'll blow folks away with his intellect or insight; I'd rather steal Kevin Pritchard from the Pacers
  • Troy Weaver -- really smart, has learned from Presti, very comfortable with numbers and statistical analysis

A couple names I'd add to the list based on my own conversations and dealings with them: Dean Oliver and Mitchell Butler. Dean, of course, is the Bill James of basketball. Smart as hell. Knows the game as a player. Actually worked as an old-fashioned sit-in-the-stands-and-take-notes scout.

Most Wiz fans know Butler as a player. I forget his title when they hired him, but his role was kind of a hybrid coaching/front office position. Smart and charismatic -- a superb communicator. Butler was also open to (and appreciative of) statistical analysis.

My personal top choices would be Weaver, Zarren or Oliver.
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Post#80 Re: Countdown to Ernie Grunfeld Firing
Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:31 am by Chocolate City Jordanaire

rockymac52 wrote:
Chocolate City Jordanaire wrote:There needs to be something done soon, but it will probably have to be an interim solution. The GM this team ends up with might be fully committed to another team.


I've commented on the topic of firing Ernie mid-season or waiting until after the season several times in the past few days, and I'm still torn. Obviously, if we know we're done with him, it makes sense for everyone involved to just get it over with and cut ties with him now. However, what we do after that isn't quite as clear. And I don't mean that in the sense of who we should hire to replace him, I mean that in the sense of whether to hire/promote an interim GM to finish out this season or to hire the long-term replacement GM mid-season. I'm still not sure where I stand.

If it is possible contracts-wise, in a legal sense, to hire our new GM, even though he currently holds another position with another NBA team, mid-season, then perhaps that's the right move. But I'm also concerned about how much of a mess things will be from an organizational structure standpoint if a mid-season hire from outside the organization is made. In an ideal situation, I'd like to be able to hire a new guy, and let him implement his policies and structure from day one, with no confusion. I'm afraid if someone is hired mid-season, and they want to make some large-scale organizational changes in the front office structure and strategy, that it may be hard to do "overnight". It would be much easier to do this in the offseason.

However, while it might take a new GM a longer time to fully implement his structure if he's hired mid-season than it would if he was hired in the offseason, I think it's pretty safe to say that those changes will probably be made sooner if they happen mid-season, as far as the ultimate end date of when they're all finalized and implemented. So again, I'm not sure what to think.

I'm inclined to think that I prefer hiring a new GM in the offseason, just so we can truly start fresh, and get the entire organization on the same page, from top to bottom. I feel like trying to do this mid-season will result in either 1. not making all of the changes the GM would ideally like to make, just because it's more complicated in-season and sacrifices need to be made or 2. all of the changes are made, but it leaves our entire organization in a mess for the duration of this season. I'm tired of all of the messes. For once, I want something to be "clean".

I see it as similar to hiring a new coach mid-season. Okay, your current coach isn't getting things done, and deserves to be fired come December or January. So you fire him. Seems logical and fair. Then you hire the guy that you see as best for the job from outside the organization. Makes sense (ALTHOUGH, I'd like to quickly add that I feel like we'd limit the pool of potential replacements - either coaches or GMs - simply by doing it mid-season because they're likely already busy with their current team, and don't want any distractions, as they're thinking about their current job/team, and not their potential future with us). But this new coach you hire has an entirely different system. His system is better, and it will make our team a lot better, but there are a lot of drastic changes that will need to be made. How can you reasonably expect this coach to show up mid-season and quickly (if not immediately) make all of these big changes, teaching the new system to the players to the best of his ability, while also continuing to coach and compete in the current season?!? It seems next to impossible.

In that regard, I'm curious as to the history of success with mid-season interim head coaches. How many end up doing well? How many kept the job past that year? How many ran completely different systems than their predecessor?

I don't want to try and take any shortcuts. If we're done with Ernie, then I want a fresh face, who sees and does things differently. And I want to give that guy the opportunity to implement what he believes in the RIGHT way, which feels like the offseason to me.


rocky, your posts are terrific. I agree that ideally, a new GM hire would best be made in the off-season. However, I think it would be best to cut ties with Ernie ASAP.

What I would do is very simple:

1. If Bob Ferry is in good health and mind, I would fire Grunfeld and name Bob Ferry as interim GM.

This is somewhat of an in-house hire. I would keep Tommy Sheppard but I wouldn't name him GM. I would interview other candidates in the off-season and Sheppard would be given consideration. (I have one other candidate I prefer.)

Ferry's role would be loosely defined and he would be a consultant whose suggestions and advice would be welcome, but he wouldn't necessarily have the keys to the kingdom. He would be an agent of change for the better, as Ted sees fit.

2. Along with Ernie Grunfeld I would fire Ed Tapscott.

3. I would give Wittman until All Star break, virtually no matter what, before any coaching change was made.

What the Wizards need to do is move another direction ASAP from Ernie Grunfeld, but to keep the infrastructure pretty much in place. Wait and see how John Wall and Nene's health play out. Be happy that both Ariza and Okafor are putting up respectable numbers, and will be decent trade assets despite the currently bad record. Also, don't trade Vesely or any other young players aside from possibly Booker and definitely Crawford if deals are presently offered.

I think Crawford is an EXCELLENT player to trade. I would also strongly consider trading Booker. I would NOT trade Seraphin. I think Vesely is better than most do. Much better. I would wait and see. Chris Singleton is playing dramatically better this season. Vesely is sill very young.

My move would simply be to relieve Ernie and Tapscott for now, and to try to engender hope. Bob Ferry could do that.
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