Another fun week in Wizards world, eh? And that’s not just because new owner Ted Leonsis gently reminded me that Yi Jianlian wasn’t acquired for marketing purposes. Did I really think that? Not quite, but it was fun to write, and it speaks to my own corporate background from my previous career/life. By the way, it’s also nice to know that Leonsis is reading the Examiner, too. Ted, we appreciate it.
Perhaps what I should’ve said, though, was that the indications of a longer-term strategy for the Wizards were clear before Leonsis reminded everyone that Washington intends to be the tortoise. It is no surprise to watch Washington let the rest of the NBA scramble to make a splash in free agency while the Wizards both reap the rewards (with the acquisition of Kirk Hinrich, Kevin Seraphin and Yi for next to nothing) and rebuild the roster in a way that fits the revamped vision of team president Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Flip Saunders, with energy, toughness and defense in guys like Trevor Booker and Hamady N'diaye.
As Grunfeld has said repeated since late May, it doesn’t hurt to get the first pick in the draft, too. With John Wall on board, the Wizards can be patient and build a foundation of guys that are dedicated and play hard, and then position themselves to go forward even if it means some bumps and bruises along the way in the short term.
The reports of overtures to Travis Outlaw, Rasual Butler, Ryan Gomes, Josh Childress, Josh Howard and Mike Miller all make sense, fitting the profile of what the Wizards are searching for in a moderately priced small forward. (I offered up two of those, and we’ll have to see where the shopping for a center leads. Luis Scola could be too expensive.)
And the process has to unfold slowly because to a significant extent, the big dominoes – LeBron James et al. – need to fall first.
Which then allows for a fun week in D.C. of instead discussing Wall choosing to wear No. 2 – because he has two parents and the Roman numeral (II) makes for a sweet marketing fit since it looks like No. 11 – and Gilbert Arenas ditching No. 0 and No. 6 for No. 9 – which, if nothing else, makes plenty of sense given the obvious gun-related jokes that could’ve and would’ve been pointed (no pun intended) in Arenas’ general direction by keeping No. 6, whether it be LeBron- or gun-related.
If there’s one thing for certain, the former is an image the Wizards are supremely intent on avoiding.
And so again, the conversation turns back toward Arenas, the other area where the tortoise approach is being applied. When will he reappear publicly? It is an event that is at least as anticipated as Las Vegas Summer League, although watching Wall alone will make it worth the while to get online and watch.
It's just that as much change as there is going on for the Wizards - and an overwhelming portion of it is positive - things can't be entirely different until Arenas re-emerges.