Ernie Grunfeld became the Wizards' president of basketball operations nearly nine years ago, in June 2003, but he may not be part of the organization for a tenth year. With his contract set to expire at season's end, Grunfeld tells Michael Lee of the Washington Post that he hasn't let speculation about his future affect him.
"I’ve been in this business a long time," said Grunfeld. "This has been a challenge, and we knew it was going to be a challenge when we got into it. I’m just working as hard as I can, to do the best job that I can…. Those things will take care of themselves in the future as we move along."
A prominent agent told Lee that there's "no way" Wizards owner Ted Leonsis can bring back Grunfeld, and that the position will be highly sought-after if and when it becomes available. An NBA executive said the Wizards' trade for Nene was a "step in the right direction" but likely wouldn't be enough to save Grunfeld's job.
"Nothing against Ernie," the exec told Lee. "But he’s worked there for nine years and if you work for AT&T for nine years and the stock is dropping every day and you’re losing, guess what? The board of directors is getting rid of you. That’s the reality…. The stock is falling in Washington."
Grunfeld has been one of the league's highest-paid general managers, with Lee's sources estimating that the Wizards exec is paid between $3.5MM and $4.5MM annually. If Grunfeld were to return to Washington next season, it would likely be for a reduced salary. Still, Grunweld would like the chance to turn the franchise around.
"I’m very competitive," Grunfeld said. "Everyone would love to have a championship contender every year and I’ve been part of those situations. It’s fun to be there and hopefully, we can get back there in the near future."