I just got off a conference call with Washington Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld. Outside of the typical happiness and optimism from getting the No. 1 pick in this year’s Draft, Grunfeld didn’t commit to picking consensus top prospect John Wall, and said Gilbert Arenas‘ place with the team isn’t in danger.
Dime: What was your immediate reaction to hearing you had the top pick?
Ernie Grunfeld: Immediately I was just so happy, I think I did a double fist-pump when they announced Washington had the top pick. Obviously everybody wants the No. 1 pick, so we’re ecstatic about it. We’re going in a new direction with the team, in a rebuilding direction, and what better way to start that than with the No. 1 pick?
Dime: Talk about having Irene Pollin represent the Wizards tonight.
EG: It was great. The Pollins have owned this team for 45 years and have done so many great things for the city of Washington. She was wearing Abe‘s championship ring … I think the spirit was with her. It’s the end of an era here and the beginning of a new era, with our new owner being here tonight.
Dime: How soon does the process of figuring out your Draft strategy start? Do you give it a night to settle in, or are teams making trade offers and scouts giving their input right away?
EG: Well, the process started a long time ago. We’ve been scouting, doing background checks. I’m sure a lot of different things are going to come up in the next couple of weeks, and tomorrow the Chicago pre-draft camp starts. So the process has already started. We had a lot of options already, but now we can get anybody we want and put them in place for the next eight, 10, 12 years.
Dime: Going into the Lottery, before you knew which pick you’d have, were you already thinking about what areas you wanted to address on the roster?
EG: We were going for the best player available, regardless of position. And now we have our choice of everybody. We also have a pick late in the first round and one early in the second round, so we’ll have to do our research on that as well. But having the No. 1 pick is outstanding and I know our fans back in D.C. are very excited about it.
Dime: What’s your early scouting report on John Wall?
EG: First thing is he’s very competitive. He’s a high-energy player and he’s a winner.
Dime: Thoughts on Evan Turner?
EG: Well, he’s a multi-dimensional talent who can play multiple positions. I don’t want to go through the whole Draft, but we’ve done our due diligence on a lot of players and will continue to do so all the way up to the Draft.
Dime: Does this change any plans you might have had regarding Gilbert Arenas?
EG: Nope. Gilbert is still with us. He’s in the gym working out and getting ready. The more good players you have on your team, the better, and he’s a great player.