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Sixteen years... that's a long time to be a General Manager in the NBA. For long-suffering Wizards fans, it's been 16 years of near misses, disappointments, and just flat-out bizarre decision-making for an NBA franchise. For a hoops crazy metro area, that's practically dying for a winning basketball professional culture, the removal of Ernie Grunfeld as GM is a welcome and cathartic relief. As a fan that's old enough to remember the dark days of Wes Unseld as a GM, and the cavalcade of coaches and wasted draft picks that era represented. I can appreciate the job Ernie DID do, in terms of bringing talent to the squad at certain times, but the opposite can be said for his draft accumen, and overall stewardship of the team. Ultimately, the question on every fan's mind at this point is:
Where do the Wizards go from here?
Well, the first thing that's apparent to THIS fan, is that the overall culture of the franchise needs a complete overhaul. That's already started with Grunfeld's removal, but how many other folks in the front office will get their walking papers? Who will be called upon to take over the position, and instill a winning, competitive culture to the franchise? Will Scott Brooks have the opportunity to be an active part of that culture change? He's got a proven track record within NBA circles, as a player's coach, and a coach that's more inclined to hold players accountable. Will he have the chance to tailor a roster to his image and liking? The Wizards have a good deal of talent on the roster now, which is why this slide into mediocrity has been doubly frustrating to the Wizards faithful. Bradley Beal looks to be the marquee piece the franchise will build around for the future, given the uncertain status of John Wall's effectiveness after he returns from a nasty Achilles tendon injury. Otto Porter made his departure from the franchise mid-season, in return for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker, both of whom still have some pretty major upside as offensive weapons to compliment the Wizard back court. However, the rest of the roster is pretty much on the chopping block, including the likes of Tim Howard, Ian Mahimi, Sam Dekker, etc. Even promising rookie Troy Brown may not be long for this roster, depending on who the new General Manager is.
This year's NBA Draft promises to be one of the deeper drafts in recent memory. The next Wizard's GM will need to really hit the ground running, in terms of putting young talent around one of the best back court duos in the league. DC may not be in a position to win the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, but there's more than enough young talent in this year's draft to re-stock the cupboard for fans of the team to be optimistic about the future. At the end of the day, the Wizards have committed to a new path forward for the franchise. Defining where that path leads will be the first order of business for the next GM of this organization. A new beginning is a new beginning, and Wizards fans are eager to get the new era started in a big way.