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BC-BKN--Wizards-Grunfeld Fired,2nd Ld-Writethru

April 2, 2019
AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ernie Grunfeld was fired as president of the Washington Wizards on Tuesday after 16 seasons in charge of the team.

The Wizards announced his dismissal with four games left in a disappointing, no-playoffs season.

Washington is 32-46 and in 11th place in the 15-team Eastern Conference.

“We did not meet our stated goals of qualifying for the playoffs this season,” owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement issued by the Wizards, “and, despite playing with injuries to several key players, we have a culture of accountability and a responsibility of managing to positive outcomes.”

Point guard John Wall and center Dwight Howard both missed most of the season, and forward Markieff Morris also was injured before getting traded.

The club went 568-724 during Grunfeld’s tenure, including eight postseason appearances.

But Washington never made it past the second round of the playoffs and never won at least 50 games in a season, despite having All-Stars such as Wall, Bradley Beal, Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison.

Tommy Sheppard, senior vice president of basketball operations, will take over Grunfeld’s duties for now and will be a candidate to replace him permanently.

There is a lot of work to do.

Wall is expected to be sidelined for much, if not all, of next season, too. Beal is the only other elite player who is under contract for next season. Otherwise, the cupboard is rather bare, and because of the large contracts Grunfeld gave Wall and Beal — not to mention backup center Ian Mahinmi, who rarely plays — there is not a lot of money available to bring top-level free agents to the Wizards.

The team also doesn’t have a second-round draft pick in this year’s NBA draft because Grunfeld traded it away.

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