A new season for the Washington Wizards kicks off Oct. 27, and I have just one question to ask: Where is the enthusiasm?

Trust me, I understand completely. This is a team-inflicted wound that the fans have to endure, and they are showing their collective displeasure by completely not caring about this team anymore, it seems.

And it is kind of sad.

General Manager Ernie Grunfeld basically mortgaged the future of current fandom with the promises of a huge splash in free agency about three seasons ago, with D.C.’s own Kevin Durant as the main target.  With the influx of new money with the NBA’s new TV deal (which subsequently allowed for higher team salary caps), all of the league’s teams were going to be awash with a lot of cash, not just the Wizards.

So, instead of the team landing a top-tier free agent such as Durant or Al Horford, for example, the team decided to spend their money by doubling up on the center position. Grunfeld decided to pay center Ian Mahinmi a four-year, $64 million deal and also signed lesser talents in Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith and Trey Burke to fill out the roster.  Not exactly the splashy, franchise altering maneuvers we all expected and waited for.

The team also re-signed the oft-injured but talented Bradley Beal to a five-year, $128 million maximum salary contract.  Most league observers chuckled at the deal, considering his lack of production, whether it’s been injury related or not. Beal hasn’t been living up to lofty expectations, but the team was in a no-win situation. You simply cannot let a 25-year-old shooting guard with Beal’s ability leave without getting anything in return.  All one can hope is that he finds some way to stay reasonably healthy for the duration of the season.  If he does that, he will find himself in the ranks of the better young perimeter players in the game today.

Last season’s bitter disappointment has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.  Finishing out of the playoffs in the perennially weaker Eastern Conference was unacceptable, and it cost former coach Randy Wittman his job.  He was replaced by former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who was relieved of his Thunder duties the prior year.  Brooks isn’t highly regarded by media pundits for being particularly innovative in any form or fashion yet he should be a marked improvement from the archaic teachings of Mr. Wittman.  For everything Wittman brought to the team when he took over – professionalism and an emphasis on defense – the team’s offensive playbook was just a joke.  The offense basically was: “Hey, let our All-Star point guard John Wall try to create everything and let the chips fall where they may.”  If you look at the better teams in the league, they have elaborate sets on offense that create easier attempts for their best players in their most optimal positions to score.  Add to that the awful rosters that have been constructed by Grunfeld in his tenure, it just feels like Washington has wasted Wall’s early prime years and that is beyond sad.

There have been grumblings that Wall is unhappy with the direction of the team and he should feel exactly that way. This team will again be a fringe playoff team with absolutely zero shot of competing for a NBA title, unless there is some serious growth from the young talents and an overall talent infusion.

So yes, I totally get it.  The team had a very disappointing season last year and nothing happened this summer to make us feel any better about the upcoming season. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Who am I kidding…this is Washington, D.C. sports we’re talking about.

Prove us wrong for a change and maybe, just maybe, we can feel better about the team.

Dion Johnson

Special to the AFRO