WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – While the most optimistic predictions may have the Wizards backing into the playoff in the 2013-14 NBA season, the groundwork could already be laid in assembling a championship-caliber team, and the piece that puts them over the top could come sooner than expected.
Wizards’ GM Ernie Grunfeld was on with 106.7 The Fan’s Lavar and Dukes Friday, in advance of the team’s home-opener against Philadelphia, and was asked to explain his reasoning for declining to pick up the fourth-year options of 2011 1st-round picks Chris Singleton and Jan Veselý.
“Well, we have some flexibility moving forward,” Grunfeld said. “We have a lot of guys in the last years of their contracts, and hopefully this group comes together and we can keep them together for a few years, but if things don’t work out the way we want it to and someone becomes available to us next offseason, we have the flexibility – almost $15- to $16-million in cap room – to go out there and get a player, or maybe get two players in that way. And so we wanted to preserve the cap flexibility moving forward.”
Asked if the team’s decision was intended to send a message to Singleton and Veselý, Grunfeld responded, “Well I think that’s always the case, in any sport.”
“We always say, players will tell us what to do by the way they perform, and they way they help the team win,” Grunfeld said. “And that’s our main focus, is we want guys that want to win, and guys that can contribute to a winning kind of situation. We’ve turned the roster around here in the last three years. John Wall is the longest tenured player that we have and we tried to get players that are professional, that are hard-working, and are team-first type of guys that care about winning and losing.”
The question then becomes what, or rather who, are the Wizards clearing cap space to bring in next season. Absolving themselves of their sins, committed in missing on two first-round picks in the same draft, frees up, as Grunfeld previously stated, upwards of $15 million. With the Wizards having three of the five starting positions locked up for the foreseeable future, that could be enough cash to reel in a big fish, should Washington decide to take the next step in building a championship-caliber team.
“I guess Chad was asking you ‘are you bringing Carmelo Anthony,’ or, we do know you have history with the Knicks, so are you bringing Carmelo here?” Grunfeld was asked by Lavar.
“Well I was with that franchise for eighteen years, as a player and broadcaster believe it or not, just like you guys,” Grunfeld answered. “But you know we can’t talk about players on any other team, whether it’s the Knick team, the Lakers or the Houston Rockets, anybody.”
So if you happen to have Melo’s player bio pulled up in another tab, that wasn’t a no.
While Carmelo has said he wants to retire as a Knick, he’s also definitively said he will opt out of his current deal at the conclusion of the current season to test free agency, which means a change-of-city is still on the table.