The Washington Wizards officially ousted Ernie Grunfeld as president of the team on Tuesday after overseeing basketball operations for 16 seasons and witnessing eight playoffs firsthand.
Chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment Ted Leonsis announced the NBA's decision to fire Grunfeld with four games left in a disastrous season.
“We did not meet our stated goals of qualifying for the playoffs this season and, despite playing with injuries to several key players, we have a culture of accountability and a responsibility of managing to positive outcomes,” Leonsis said in a news release on Tuesday.
“I wish to thank Ernie for his service to the Washington Wizards. He and his family have been great leaders in our community and have worked tirelessly to make us a top NBA franchise," he continued.
Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Tommy Sheppard will lead the team in the interim — though he hopes to make the position permanent.
Leonsis said he will consider Sheppard, who will be reporting to him, as a candidate while conducting a more thorough search for a new president after the season ends.
“We did not meet our stated goals of qualifying for the playoffs this season and, despite playing with injuries to several key players, we have a culture of accountability and a responsibility of managing to positive outcomes."
"Grunfeld was hired prior to the 2003-04 season and compiled a record of 568-724 during his tenure with the franchise," the NBA said in an online statement. Grunfeld formerly served as the general manager of the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks from 1989 through to the early 2000s.
The Wizards' tweet announcing Grunfeld, 63, was officially out quickly circulated with more than 1,500 retweets within just a few hours on Tuesday.
Washington is 32-46 and in 11th place in the 15-team Eastern Conference.
Two of the team's biggest stars — point guard John Wall and center Dwight Howard — both missed a big chunk of the season.
Wall, a five-time all-star who averaged 20.7 points for the Wizards this season, will likely be benched for at least 12 months as he recovers from a ruptured left Achilles' tendon that he suffered as a result of a "slip and fall" at his home, the NBA announced in February. The 28-year-old basketball star was already out for the season after undergoing an operation on his left heel in early January.
Forward Markieff Morris was also injured before getting traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for forward Wesley Johnson.
“This trade gives us a veteran wing player and former first round pick in Wesley who will add experience and shooting to our bench,” Grunfeld said at the time. “Markieff was an important part of our team during his time here and we appreciate his contributions over the last four seasons.”
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.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.