2010 NBA Draft and Offseason Blog

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, and David Kay of the The Sports Bank.
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More with Ted Leonsis: Turning around the Washington Wizards - Aug. 11

Last year the Washington Wizards went 26-56 and were the only team in the NBA's Southeast Division not to make the playoffs. Wisely, they blew up their roster this past season and truly begin the rebuilding process this fall. The Wizards are starting over with a new owner (Internet pioneer and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis) and franchise player at the point guard position (NBA Draft No.1 overall pick John Wall).

Leonsis, whose net worth is in the billions, was gracious enough to take time out of his very busy day to answer my questions about where the Wizards are going.

I first asked Leonsis about Wall's supporting cast and if the other pieces around him will aid his transition into the NBA (similar to what Chicago did with their fanchise, No. 1 overall pick point guard Derrick Rose).

"I think that great next-generation point guards are very rare and difficult to find," Leonsis said. "And when I say next-generation point guard, I mean John Wall's physiology as a specimen. He's 6 foot 4 with a wingspan of a 6-foot-11 player. He's really strong, jumps through the roof, and he's wickedly explosive and fast. But you wrap that in a gifted, intellectually astute player who is intrinsically happier when someone else is scoring, not just him."

Leonsis then brought up the Wizards' other guards.

"And we have Gilbert Arenas returning, one of the best guards in the NBA, and we were able to make the trade with Chicago to bring in Kirk Hinrich, so we think we're going to have a very good back court," he said.

Ah yes, the Gilbert question. Arenas was one of the biggest stories in the NBA last season, and for the wrong reasons.

On Dec. 24, it was revealed that Arenas stored unloaded firearms in his locker at the Verizon Center and later surrendered them to team security. This violated NBA rules against bringing firearms into an arena. On Jan. 1, it was reported that Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton had unloaded guns in the Wizards' locker room during a Christmas Eve argument regarding gambling debts.

On Jan. 6, the NBA suspended Arenas indefinitely without pay until its investigation was complete. NBA commissioner David Stern acted swiftly in response to an incident prior to a home game with the Philadelphia 76ers. During the pregame introductions, Arenas pretended to shoot his surrounding teammates with guns made from his fingers. The Wizards issued a statement condemning the players' pregame stunt as unacceptable. Later that month, Arenas and Crittenton were suspended for the remainder of the season.

On Jan. 14, Arenas was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a violation of Washington, D.C.'s gun-control laws. He pleaded guilty to the felony of carrying an unlicensed pistol.

On Feb. 2, Arenas wrote an open editorial in the Washington Post, apologizing for his actions and for "making light of a serious situation." On March 26, Arenas was convicted for his crimes and sentenced to two years probation, 400 hours of community service, a $5,000 fine and 30 days in a halfway house. Arenas served his sentence this past spring.

When I brought up Arenas' future with the team, Leonsis said that both Gilbert and the team have move past the incident, and that Arenas has learned his lesson and he's now focused on doing whatever he can to help the team. Leonsis' words echoes the statement made on March 27 by Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld.

"We're not going to void his contract, and as we've said all along, he's going to be with us," Grunfeld said before a home contest against the Utah Jazz. His statement shot down earlier rumors that Washington would look into terminating the remaining four years and $80 million remaining on Arenas' contract.

With Arenas on board, I asked Leonsis about the Wizards' plan for winning long term, following the Boston/Miami/L.A. Lakers model, or perhaps the Oklahoma City Thunder method in building toward the playoffs and beyond.

"I want to draft, develop and retain, make astute trades and add free agents as the third tool. Boston is built through trades, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen was a trade. So you need to make astute trades and then you use free agency to fill in," he answered. "I'm skeptical, and I have history to prove it - teams primarily built through free agency don't win championships."

So the emphasis is on homegrown, more organic talent development. I asked if Oklahoma City serves as their model.

"I admire what they built very much so, and not only do they have a great team, they won 50 games. The Wizards haven't won 50 games in 25 years, so they have upside. Fans love watching teams that have young kids that they kind of adopt as the team develops," he stated.

Leonsis already talked about the talent in the backcourt, but what about up front? Javale McGee looked impressive down the stretch last year and had a very productive summer. Is this the year we'll see the third-year, seven-footer from Nevada make "the leap" into a bonafide starting center?

"I'm very impressed with him, a big man who can run and has good hands, enjoys playing defense and rebounds," Leonsis said. "He's bulked up and can run. There's never any doubt about his athleticism, and now he's a big strong kid, gaining experience and confidence." "And I think we're fortunate we can have one of the better young big men in the league."

Recent NBA Draft and Offseason Blog Entries:

Four-Team Trade - 8/12
More with Ted Leonsis: Turning around the Washington Wizards - 8/11
Ted Leonsis Taking Washington Wizards on a New Path - 8/8
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 8/5 (Shaq)
NBA Announced Nationally Televised Game Schedule - 8/4
Michigan State Dismisses Chris Allen - 8/4
2011 NBA Free Agents - 7/30
2010 NBA Offseason Losers - 7/29
2010 NBA Offseason Winners - 7/28
Larry Bird Ranked Worst NBA GM - 7/27
Chris Paul Possible Trades - 7/26
Tracy McGrady to Chicago looking Extremely Likely - 7/26
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/24 (Kurt Thomas)
2011 NBA Draft Trades - 7/24
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/23 (Jefferson)
John Hammond May Have One More Transaction Up His Sleeve - 7/23
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/20 (Kleiza)
Evan Turner vs. Purdue Fans in Heated Twitter Trash Talk - 7/19
Top 10 2010 NBA Free Agents Available - 7/18
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/18 (Brad Miller)
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/17 (Brewer)
Magic Match Offer Sheet for J.J. Redick - 7/17
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/16
How Does Wesley Matthews Fit in Portland? - 7/16
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/15
Jefferson-Chandler Trades Analysis - 7/14
Michael Redd Era Over in Milwaukee - 7/14
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/13
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis (Last Weekend's) - 7/13
Childress-Turkoglu-Morrow Trades Analysis - 7/13
Sixers' Evan Turner Struggled in Summer League - 7/13
Specific Details of NCAA Tournament Expansion Announced Today - 7/13
Bulls Sign Kyle Korver, Offer Sheet to J.J. Redick - 7/11
Brainwashed Timberwolves Fans Fail to See the Light - 7/10
Winner in LeBron Sweepstakes? Milwaukee Bucks - 7/10
Larry Sanders Brings a Unique Skill Set to Milwaukee - 7/10
LeBron James to Miami Heat Recap - 7/9
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/9
Knicks-Warriors David Lee Trade Analysis - 7/9
Timberwolves-Heat Michael Beasley Trade Analysis - 7/9
Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to Miami Heat - 7/8
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/8
The LeBron James Show - 7/8
Carlos Boozer Signs with Bulls - 7/8
Profiling Milwaukee's Potential Point Guards - 7/8
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/7
2010 NBA Summer League Recap - 7/7
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/6
2010 NBA Summer League Recap - 7/6
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/5
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/4
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/3
It's Not LeBron or Bust for the Bulls - 7/3
2010 NBA Free Agency Signings Analysis - 7/2
2010 NBA Free Agency: Day 1 - 7/2
Former NBA Player Kendall Gill on the Bulls Free Agent Prospects - 7/2
2010 NBA Draft Day Trades - 6/25
Foreign Flavor Losing Flair in NBA Draft - 6/24
Bucks-Warriors Corey Maggette Trade - 6/23
2010 NBA Draft Mailbag - 6/22
76ers-Kings Samuel Dalembert Trade - 6/18
2010 NBA Draft Mailbag - 6/3
2010 NBA Draft Lottery Odds Breakdown - 5/17
Evan Turner's Flaws - 5/13
Where Will Joe Johnson Go? - 5/12
Bulls Could Use Oklahoma State's James Anderson - 5/10
2010 NBA Draft Mailbag - 5/9
2010 NBA Draft Early Entries - 5/9
Debate's Over: Deron Williams is the Best Point Guard - 5/8
Someone to Be Drafted from DePaul? Yes, Really - 5/7
Gani Lawal: Testing the NBA Draft Waters - 5/6
Can De'Sean Butler Be Mr. Clutch in the NBA? - 5/5
Derrick Favors: No. 1 Big Man on 2010 NBA Draft Boards - 5/4
Jordan Crawford: More Than the Guy Who Dunked on LeBron - 5/3
Devin Ebanks is an NBA Draft Wildcard - 5/3
Where Will Dwayne Wade Go? - 5/1
Where Will Chris Bosh Go? - 5/1
2010 NBA Trade Deadline Grades - 2/19
NBA Offseason and Draft Blog - Home

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