Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and Coach Randy Wittman sat behind a podium Wednesday for a joint news conference to discuss an upcoming season that could either represent their final run as a tandem or the beginning of a long sustainable franchise run as a playoff contender. Grunfeld is entering his 11th season with the organization and Wittman is set to start his second full season with the team but their fortunes have been tied ever since owner Ted Leonsis gave them two-year extensions in 2012. And as both enter the final year of their respective deals they understand the pressure that comes as the Wizards attempt to make the postseason for the first time since the 2007-08 season. “Well that's what we want” Wittman said when asked about the increased expectations. “We want to get to the playoffs. Do you think this is the first time I’ve been on a one-year contract? No. It doesn’t mean anything. Thirty years of being in this — and it’s just about going out and doing your job and doing it the best you can and I feel if we do that everything else takes care of itself.” Grunfeld then chuckled and said: “I’ve been there 36 years for a couple under the same circumstances. So I have him by a couple of years on that one.” In an interview with WUSA (Channel 9) this week Leonsis said that he is “very very happy” with the job the front office has done since he purchased the team three years ago but added that “we live in very accountable businesses and we’re all accountable.” Last season the Wizards had to temper expectations before the season started as their two best players — John Wall and Nene — were injured when training camp began. By the time Wall made his debut in mid-January the Wizards were already out of the playoff picture and had posted the league’s worst record at 5-28. With training camp set to get underway on Saturday at George Mason University the Wizards are again dealing with injuries with starting center Emeka Okafor out indefinitely with a herniated disk in his neck and versatile reserve forward Chris Singleton out at least six to eight weeks with a broken left foot. This time around however Wittman and Grunfeld believe the Wizards are better prepared to withstand the setbacks after an offseason in which the team found an upgrade at backup point guard in Eric Maynor and a forward who can stretch the floor in Al Harrington. They also drafted Otto Porter Jr. and Glen Rice Jr. bolstering the perimeter. Nene spent the entire summer getting the rest he needed to get healthy and the young players on the roster — such as Wall Bradley Beal Kevin Seraphin Jan Vesely and Trevor Booker — showed varying ranges of growth.
Wizards’ Ernie Grunfeld, Randy Wittman embrace expectations
Washington Post | Sep 26