For weeks, the discussion about the job security about Randy Wittman was certain -- he was on the way out -- and that the Wizards' front office was more likely than not to stay in power. Thursday, team president Ernie Grunfeld confirmed it.
Grunfeld, who CSNmidatlantic.com has reported on several occasions and most recently last week, remains under contract with the Wizards.
"I"m here. I'm going to be heading up the coaching search," said Grunfeld, who has been with the organization since 2003. "We're going to be here. I think we had a plan in place. We followed that plan. Obviously there was a bump in the road because of not being able to make the playoffs because part of the playoffs was to get back and be a playoff team. I think we carried out that plan. This didn't happen over night. This has been a three-year process to put together a group of solid, young players that have proven themselves in this league as legitimate starters and still have some substantial flexibility to add to that roster. So what we set out to do from that standpoint, I think we're right there. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish as far as putting a solid core together."
In other words, Wittman was given the pieces to succeed even with all the injuries and at best could field a 41-41 team that had massive internal issues. And John Wall, Markieff Morris, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Marcin Gortat and likely Bradley Beal (restricted free agent) are locked in while the team still is a major player in the free-agent market this summer.
The front office, Grunfeld is implying, did its part. The coaching staff, most of whom are unlikely to be retained by the new coach, did not. And as usual in these circumstances, coaches are the first to go.
Majority owner Ted Leonsis issued a playoffs-or-else verdict to his staff and they responded with a 44-win season that led to Wittman's three-year extension. The pressure is back on the front office to produce for 2016-17.
"I've been in this league for 40 years. I was a rookie in 1977. Every year brings their own set of pressures. When you're a player you have the pressure to make the team and produce every night you're other there. I went through all those kinds of things," Grunfeld said. "These are the jobs we all have and it's competitive and it's fun and it's what we like to do. We want to get back to where we belong. We feel like we're a playoff team and a team that when we get there we can do some damage. This year we didn't accomplish that and that's disappointing."
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