by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld seems to be tempering expectations, one day after his team clinched their first playoff berth since the 2007-2008 season, saying you can’t go from “not being in the playoffs for a few years” to “championship contender” right away.

It’s a process, one that Grunfeld respects and shared with Wizards fans in an interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Thursday.

“This is an exciting time here,” Grunfeld said. “You can’t go from not being in the playoffs for a few years to all of a sudden being a championship contender right away. You have to go through it, and you have to pay your dues, and you have to learn as the process moves forward.”

Currently ranked 6th in the Eastern Conference — at 39-36 with 7 games to play — the Wizards could still potentially enter the playoffs with a losing record, a sign of the east’s inferior disposition to its Western Conference counterpart.

But Grunfeld bucked at the notion that the Wizards should feel any less accomplished for making the playoffs in a seemingly watered down conference.

“Well, I think unless you can get out there on the court, it’s easy to say that it’s so easy to make it,” he said. “But other teams are trying every single night.”

“The Eastern Conference, record-wise, is not as good as maybe the Western Conference, but hey, we have to play against everybody and we play our opponents.”

The Wizards should be getting some reinforcement in the paint in the coming week.

Grunfeld said the return of Nene, who’s been out with a sprained MCL since late February, is just around the corner.

“Hopefully we’ll have him back within a week or ten days to help us here towards the end of the season, and then going into the playoffs,” Grunfeld said.



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