Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders spoke before the Wizards game against the Miami Heat about the trading of Gilbert Arenas and acquisition of Rashard Lewis from the Orlando Magic.
Here are some of the highlights (transcribed by our Wizards blog, Bullets Forever):
We think Rashard is going to really be able to help our frontcourt with his experience, his versatility, his ability to stretch the defense. He's a 39 percent career three-point shooter, and when you have a point guard like John who likes to penetrate and is a distributor, you need people who can stretch the D. He can play on the outside, but he can post up when he has smaller players on him. He was a two-time all-star, comes from a great winning environment, and we're really pleased to have him on our ballclub. This fits into our rebuilding and we're rebuilding around our young players and through the draft, but to be able to do that, you also need some veteran leadership and I think Rashard is one of those players who can lead by example along with Kirk and Josh Howard of course.
EG on who might benefit from Arenas going to Orlando.
"It also gives some of our young players an opportunity to play. Nick Young is going to get extended minutes now, he's had an opportunity to play, he's played real well, he's shown that he can take advantage of time he's gotten and now he's going to get even more of an opportunity to show what he can do."
EG on selling this to Ted, while emphasizing that the core foundation will remain young players
You can't have every single player on your team be young. You need to have some veterans, and I think we have a few veterans that have experience and can provide leadership. I think Ted was on board with this, because it goes right in line with what he's doing for the long term.
It seems as though the decision to trade Arenas marks the end of the previous era in Wizards basketball and the rebuilding phase is now in full effect. As Grunfeld said, he could not have every player on the roster be young, so they had to augment that talent with veteran players. That being said, it remains to be seen if Rashard Lewis will provide that veteran leadership that Arenas apparently did not provide.
On the trade:
We're in a total rebuild. We're in a situation where three of our top players play the same position. John, and Gilbert and Kirk...Gilbert's done a lot for this organization. For me he has given me no problems as far as coaching. Where we figure where we want to be in two or three years, he is going to be at the end of his career.
On the question of whether it's John Wall's team:
There's no question that anyone is going ask. It's his team. So that come with repsonsibility. The critics or people who thought that Gilbert would maybe hinder his development. That's not going to be brought up anymore. He won't ever have to defer to Gilbert and it will facilitate his learning process.
On whether it could have worked between John and Gilbert:
I thought it could work. I think more than anything else, not just with John but with everyone else. They guys who are playing a lot for us like JaVale, and Booker, and Kevin. We're a couple years away. At that would put Gilbert at the end. We also thought we needed a veteran upfront type payer that we could count on who has been through wars, been to the NBA championships...he has been a go to player. In Orlando he has been asked to be a spot up shooter. I played against him a lot in Minnesota and he had the ability to score in the post. We're going to ask him to go back and do that and become a go to type player.
That's some brutal honesty from Saunders right there. There's no doubt that this team has embraced the complete rebuild of the entire organization. As for Wizards fans, while most of them certainly had an emotional connection to Arenas, they likely can understand why this move had to be made and respect the fact that the team is willing to come out and say what their true intentions are.