One prominent agent said the Wizards job would be highly sought after if it became available and that there is “no way” Leonsis can bring back Grunfeld.
“Look, it’s a tough job,” the agent said. “But he’s had his shot.”
Despite the rumblings, Grunfeld remains confident about the direction of the organization and has not let the speculation about his future affect him.
“I’ve been in this business a long time,” said Grunfeld, whose current team will face his former team Friday at Madison Square Garden. “This has been a challenge, and we knew it was going to be a challenge when we got into it. I’m just working as hard as I can, to do the best job that I can.
“Those things will take care of themselves in the future as we move along.”
Owner Ted Leonsis has a policy of not discussing contract situations, but he also has consistently written glowingly positive blog posts about the team. He has compared the struggles of his first two years as owner of the Wizards to how the Capitals finished in last place in the division each of Alex Ovechkin’s first two seasons. And, in a recent post about the Wizards’ season-high-tying two-game winning streak, Leonsis praised the scouting department for drafting Kevin Seraphin and acquiring Jordan Crawford. He concluded, “We are making progress.”
‘We like our young core’
Grunfeld certainly hasn’t acted like a man restricted from making important decisions that will affect the future of the franchise. He replaced Flip Saunders with Randy Wittman after a 2-15 start in late January and dealt former first-round draft picks JaVale McGee and Nick Young at the trade deadline to bring back 10-year veteran center Nene, who is owed $52 million over the next four years.
Though McGee and Young had been at the forefront of the rebuilding efforts the past two seasons, Grunfeld said trading them was still in accordance with the plan.
“The two players we traded for Nene, we got in the draft and we were able to combine them to get a player who would fit into what we were trying to do,” Grunfeld said. “We now have two positions that are covered, probably the two toughest positions to fill in the league: point guard and a big man.”
The trade also symbolized a culture shift for the organization, which was in need of more professionalism and serious-minded players after years of laughing through losing. Grunfeld said the addition of Nene gives the team “credibility” and would like to surround him and former No. 1 overall pick John Wall with more like-minded talent.