WASHINGTON -- Following the Wizards' loss to the Grizzlies on Saturday night, their fifth in a row, guard Spencer Dinwiddie became the latest Wizards veteran player to express frustration with the team's current direction. But while Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma spoke up about what they feel needs to change, Dinwiddie said he tried to do that and was essentially discouraged to do so.
Here is his full answer when asked by a reporter via Zoom if he felt the need to "be more vocal" as one of the leaders on the team.
"Off the floor, obviously yeah, you want your daily habits to speak for you. It's an interesting situation. I spoke up a little bit early on. It wasn't necessarily welcomed. And so, like I said, I try to do whatever's asked of me. At the end of the day, everybody has a role to play. It's about being accountable in your role and doing that to the best of your ability. That's really all I've got."
Dinwiddie did not add further context to what he meant by "it wasn't necessarily welcomed." He didn't explain when or how he spoke up, what he said or in what setting. He suggested it was earlier in the season.
So, speculating exactly what he meant would be difficult without him explaining more. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr., however, said he read Dinwiddie's comments and offered his reaction after the team's practice on Monday. Unseld Jr. said that, generally speaking, he wants players like Dinwiddie to share their opinions on the direction of the team.
"I think I’ve been open from Day 1 to suggestions from our guys, vets that have been around," Unseld Jr. said. "I’m not sure who that was pointed to. I don’t know if that was directed at staff or teammates, or I’m not sure who that was pointed to, but I think it’s great. I think the more communication we can have and they can have amongst themselves [the better]."
Unseld Jr. went on to suggest that not all feedback from players is adopted by the coaching staff. Though he doesn't want to discourage anyone from sharing their thoughts, ultimately he has to decide what is useful and what isn't.
"Just because an opinion is made, it has to be evaluated. Is this good for him, is this good for the group? It doesn’t mean it’s unwelcomed, it’s just more of does it fit what we’re trying to do. If it is, it’s good for us and we’ll try to do it," Unseld Jr. said.
Unseld Jr. was asked if there could be problems in the Wizards' locker room, as their losses are piling up, and if Dinwiddie was referring to backlash from a teammate or teammates. The Wizards' coach said he believes everyone gets along and that it is an ongoing process to build chemistry on and off the court as a team.
The Wizards have had a few public disputes between players this season which led to Unseld Jr. addressing them publicly. Davis Bertans and Deni Avdija were seen arguing during two different games, while Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a disagreement during halftime of another. Whether those incidents have lingered is hard to tell, as they were downplayed at the time and have not led to anything else being reported since.
Unseld Jr. was asked about something else Dinwiddie mentioned during his postgame press conference, how the Wizards need accountability more than anything to get out of their current malaise. Unseld Jr. also reacted to that positively.
"I think that’s great. Take more ownership of it. It’s a good sign to see that it’s at least being addressed, now let’s see the carryover. It doesn’t have to be one guy," Unseld Jr. said.
"At this point, everybody should be on the same page as far as understanding what their responsibilities are in those situations. When it’s not right, we should be okay with correcting it. It shouldn’t always have to come from myself or the staff. But I think it’s important they take ownership of it."
Now three games under .500 and having fallen out of the play-in tournament picture in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards are searching for answers. While some of it has become public, Unseld Jr. believes that is just part of the process as they aim to get back on track.