Having a new practice facility conveniently located in Southeast D.C. will afford the Wizards numerous advantages they currently do not have. It will give them more space for training rooms, practice courts, swimming pools, and even a virtual reality setup that could revolutionize the way they develop players.
It will also give the Wizards another asset to wield when attracting free agents and convincing talented players to stay in Washington. The idea is to continue improving the franchise one step at a time, in this case building state-of-the-art facilities to make the team a more appealing destination for the NBA's best players.
"I think guys watch what other teams are doing and what kinds of facilities they have," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "We want to give our players the best of everything. We've tried to do that since we've been here. We've tried to run a first-class organization. Ted and his partners have been great in supporting whatever we want to do and to make it as easy as possible for our players to get the most out of their abilities. Building a facility like that will really help us along those lines."
"That's what's happened with the Caps [and Kettler Capitals Iceplex]," Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said. "They spend so much time practicing with the coaches and with the medical staff. If you create an environment that they feel trusted and loved in, it's sticky and it makes them want to come. Then, the players talk, they talk around the league. It's very important to us strategically to be able to build something that's world class and that we're very proud of."
Both John Wall and Bradley Beal were on hand at the Wizards' press conference on Wednesday announcing their plans to build a new practice facility, which is set to open in 2018. They each talked about the benefits for players of having such a space.
"I think it's good for the city and our the team," Beal said. "[John and I] both wanted it. It makes it convenient for players and on top of that it's just easy access to the community."
For Wall, having a court available at all times, one that is not dependent on the Mystics' practice schedule, will be a big plus.
"There come times when you want to work out at certain times and the girls, you gotta give their space when they have practice. We want to get on the court when we can't. I think it's going to be great for them to have their own arena when they play and for them to have the opportunity to come here and work out and not have any miscommunication or anything like that. It's something that we have to deal with now but it's exciting that we can fix that in the future," he said.
The Wizards have not traditionally been a team that has been in the mix for top free agents each offseason. But everyone who follows basketball has seen the reports connecting them to a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant during the summer of 2016.
The Wizards are a team on the rise, are well-positioned financially, and he is from the area, having grown up in Seat Pleasant, Md., which is less than 10 miles from where the new practice facility will be located.
Whether it's Durant who comes or not, the Wizards will have the resources to compete with the best in basketball when it comes time to make their pitch to whomever they want to pursue. It is all part of the plan they laid out years ago, to rebuild the franchise both on and off the court and make it one of the premier organizations in the sport.
"I think you have to keep improving and keep up with the Joneses as they say," Grunfeld said. "If you come to our facility, every year you see something change and something get a little bit better. We want to keep up with the times and stay ahead of the curve, so to speak. It's almost a necessity nowadays to have your own practice facility."