The job of an NBA GM is difficult, and often thankless. When you win, the credit is given to the players you have assembled, and potentially to the coach who helped those players play as a team; but not to you (unless you're name is Pat Riley). When you lose, well, when you lose you get fired. When you win you lose, and when you lose you're looking for a new job.
The only recognition you might find is in an article published on SBNation.com by our very own Mike Prada, wherein he ranks the NBA's GMs from the very best, to the very, uhh, not so greatest. Ernie Grunfeld, the man in charge of the Wizards, comes in at 18th; which sounds just about right. Mike's analysis, and my reaction, after the jump.
Here's what Mike had to say about our boy Ernie (Since he writes for this site, I can use extended block quotes without fear of a lawsuit; SWEET!).
Grunfeld stuck himself between a rock and a hard place coming into the pivotal 2008 offseason. He did extremely well on many of his early moves in D.C., but began clogging up his cap with long contracts to so-so players. When it came time to decide what to do with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison, Grunfeld was faced with the same "status quo vs. really slow rebuild" quandary. He chose the former, and considering he worked for an owner (Abe Pollin) that was in his 80s and had no time for a long rebuild, he sort of had no choice. That also explains many of his moves after 2008, such as the trade for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. His owner wanted a veteran team that could win right now, so Grunfeld had to give it to him. Now, he's carrying out new owner Ted Leonsis' vision, and so far, he's sticking to the plan.
Full disclosure: I'm not from Washington. I grew up in Connecticut and until very recently, I've never had a vested interest in the Wizards. So my analysis of Grunfeld and the Wizards is objective, I would like to think.
From where I sit, Grunfeld is doing a pretty decent job. When he re-signed Gilbert (arguably his biggest move/mistake as a GM), he absolutely had to. He did his best to supplement a middle of the pack team with enough talent to keep them respectable. His efforts may have never been particularly fruitul, but as Mike said, at least he had a plan.
But Grunfeld's career will not be defined by what he has done in his years since being hired as the Wizards' GM; it will be defined by the talent he is able to put around John Wall. He made the obvious pick at number one overall in last month's draft, and now he has to surround his potential franchise player with enough talent to make it work.
Grunfeld has done a mediocre to bad job as a GM thus far in his career with his Wizards, but none of that will matter if he is able to build a winner around Wall.