Wizards owner Ted Leonsis says decision to fire Ernie Grunfeld was his alone
The Washington Wizards pulled the plug on the tenure of general manager Ernie Grunfeld on Tuesday, with owner Ted Leonsis taking the brunt of the blame in the wake of the announcement.
“I take responsibility… we failed and I failed.” — Ted Leonsis
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) April 2, 2019
The move comes in the wake of Washington’s official elimination from the playoff picture in 2018-19. Despite having superstar point guard John Wall appear in just 32 games during the regular season before being shut down due to nagging heel injuries, the Wizards made a push for the playoffs behind Bradley Beal, who stepped into All-NBA consideration for the first time in his career. (Wall suffered a torn Achilles while out and will miss a significant portion of next season, as well.)
Leonsis hinted at timing of this firing when I spoke with him a few days ago. I took the road trip mention as noting team could be eliminated from playoffs by then.https://t.co/vo2Jszmum7 pic.twitter.com/xyvg9AYdr1
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) April 2, 2019
The team named Tommy Sheppard as the acting general manager in place of Grunfeld, although reports came out Tuesday that the New Orleans Pelicans were interested in interviewing Sheppard to take over as their general manager.
In addition to the Wall injury, Grunfeld also had to deal with the loss of Dwight Howard, who played in just nine games all year due to a myriad of injuries.
In an attempt to rejuvenate the roster and make a push for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Grunfeld flipped restricted free-agent-to-be Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Phoenix Suns in a deal for veteran Trevor Ariza. He also moved Otto Porter Jr. to the Chicago Bulls in a move that brought back Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis. Despite all of the savvy dealings, the Wizards enter Tuesday with a 32-46 record on the year.