Grunfeld feels pressure to make playoffs

Grunfeld feels pressure to make playoffs
April 23, 2013, 3:15 pm
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Grunfeld: We want to keep Wall for a long time

Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld feels the pressure to field a winner next season. 

On Tuesday, less than a week after the season ended 29-53, Grunfeld wouldn't commit to future plans in much detail.

But, he said, "I felt pressure last year and the year before to be a playoff team. ... We're all very competitive. We take a lot of pride in what we're trying to do. ... Now we have a foundation. We have some solid veteran players, developing young players, there's a good chemistry going forward and there's no question our goal for next year is to make the playoffs."

Injuries ruined the 2012-13 campaign from the start. John Wall (knee) missed the first 33 games. Nene (foot/knee) missed the first nine and never was fully healthy. Bradley Beal hurt both legs and had his front teeth broken. Trevor Ariza was grounded by knee soreness. Trevor Booker had a hamstring and knee strain issues. 

Despite the Wizards beginning 4-28, they finished with a winning record at Verizon Center at 22-19.  They ended the season on a six-game losing streak, however, as they failed to reach their goal of at least 30 wins.

Grunfeld is happy with the direction of the team under Randy Wittman, who completed his first full season as coach. Given the Wizards don't have much room under the salary cap and didn't have most of their key players healthy at the same time, Grunfeld didn't sound eager to make too many changes. 

"I think we have a solid group," he said. "It's important to have continuity and let the players play over an extended period of time. We haven't had our pieces together more than 40 games."

Grunfeld is wrapping up player meetings this week. Two of his best players are certain the Wizards will qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2007-08. 

"Yes, you can say that. We had a lot of good games against top teams," Nene said. "And if you look at games we lost, we gave like 14 games (away). We’re supposed to be in the playoffs.  We have a lot of things to fix. We will.”

Said Wall, "If we’re healthy we’re easily a playoff team. That’s the main thing. That’s the way I felt about this season. We would've reached the goals that I had if we were healthy.  That’s the only thing you can do is make sure you take care of your body, eat the right way, do the right conditioning and training throughout the summer."