Washington Wizards Rumors
The Wizards have bucked convention by hiring Sashi Brown as their chief operations and planning officer, as he comes from outside the basketball world. He has served as top executive but in the NFL, not in the NBA. Brown and Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis, though, believe there are plenty of skills that will translate. After all, there are many commonalities in running the front office of professional sports teams. They are constructed similarly with executives, scouts, and medical staffs. And the same principles apply to contract negotiations and pitching free agents.
Brown admits it will take some time for him to acclimate to working in a new league, but is confident his experience as a sports executive, in business and as a lawyer will help the Wizards right away. “There is far more that will transfer than I think people would imagine,” he told NBC Sports Washington. “When you have sat in that seat as a GM, the job is so big. These are now billion-dollar enterprises. We’ve got a lot of things that we want to accomplish and you really just can’t have enough talent. That’s what it feels like a lot of days. From technology to strategy to contract and negotiation and league initiatives, but also just operational support; things that we would like to get done day-to-day to be world-class.”
Between Brown and Sheppard, no one is working for the other. Their boss is Leonsis and they are expected to work in tandem. “They can focus on the team and the players and winning titles,” Brown said of Sheppard and those running the Go-Go, Mystics and District Gaming. We’re going to be a team. Tommy talked about being a team of teams. Ted would like that as a vision from the top down.”
There has been no mystery for the Wizards and their intentions to offer All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal a contract extension this Friday, July 26, the first day that they can. General manager Tommy Sheppard told ESPN their plan to offer Beal the full max, projected at $111 million over three years, a contract that would begin with the 2021-22 season. Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis then reiterated as much following the team’s press conference on Monday to introduce their new front office leadership.
Leonsis doesn’t know what Beal will ultimately decide, but he does believe it will take time before the team hears his verdict. “I don’t expect Bradley Beal to say ‘thank you’ and sign the contract when Tommy goes to see him on the 26th,” Leonsis said.
The Clippers inquired about Washington’s Bradley Beal and Houston’s James Harden, according to league sources, but neither star was available. As The Athletic previously reported, Leonard had an interest in joining forces with Jimmy Butler on the Clippers and, according to ESPN, also reached out to Kevin Durant about teaming up in Los Angeles.
“I talk to Bradley all the time. I’ve previewed everything that we’re doing all along the way. But I don’t expect Bradley — just like you shouldn’t expect me to do an interview with someone in two hours and say, ‘Okay!’ I’m not going to be waiting there, Tommy’s not going to be waiting there for a signature,” Leonsis said. “He’ll want to meet all these people. He’ll want to see what our plans are. But Brad knows he’s respected, he’s loved and we’re committed. And I’m hoping that he believes in this new NBA where it’s two players and a great rotation that ‘Why not us?’ ”
If Beal passes on the extension, the Wizards have no plans to engage in trade talks with two years, $55.8 million left on his contract, Sheppard said.
Eric Nehm: The Bucks just released their preseason schedule. Kick things off on October 7th against the Bulls in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/O2OfgsceWb
Fred Katz: Leonsis says the Dwight Howard trade happened in 15 minutes. Sheppard adds “it was a great opportunity to pivot,” considering the team wanted to start Thomas Bryant and could have used an extra wing.
Washington Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard will offer guard Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million maximum contract extension upon the All-Star becoming eligible to sign on Friday, Sheppard told ESPN. “At the very first moment allowed, we are going to offer Brad the full max extension,” Sheppard told ESPN.
Beal, 26, has until Oct. 21 to sign the extension, which would start with the 2021-22 season — a decision that agent Mark Bartelstein indicates that Beal will need time to consider. “There are moments in a career where there are big decisions to make, and Brad will work through everything and figure out the right thing to do,” Bartelstein told ESPN. “There are nothing but great feelings for Ted [Leonsis], Tommy and Scott [Brooks]. They’ve treated Brad wonderfully.”
Beal has another decision looming this week, as the Wizards can offer Beal a three-year, $111 million contract extension on Friday. Although Bartelstein said he and Beal have remained in contact with newly appointed general manager Tommy Sheppard as well as Ted Leonsis, there is no rush to come to an agreement on the upcoming offer. “We’ll talk to the Wizards. We’ve been talking to the Wizards. Those are things we have to figure out in terms of what’s the right thing for everyone,” Bartelstein said. “We’re not locked in on specific dates in terms of all that. There’s nothing that needs to be decided at this moment. There’s a lot for Brad to consider. Ted and the entire Wizards organization have been nothing but spectacular to us.”
Chris Haynes: Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal is withdrawing from USA Basketball training camp and FIBA World Cup due to birth of his child in late August/early September, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Jeff Zillgitt: In addition to naming Tommy Sheppard general manager, Wizards hire Sashi Brown (Browns) for planning and operations, Daniel Medina as director of athlete care/ performance and John Thompson III (development and engagement) and promote Brett Greenberg to assistant GM.
“I didn’t spend a lot of time with Tommy because of the hierarchy, but I told him: Let me see how you work,” Leonsis told ESPN. “Let me see how you handle the draft. Let me see a strategy document and a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. He came back and said he needed assets and young players, and that we needed to connect the draft to free agency. Our big goal was to get more coachable players that fit a system that the coaches wanted to play, that would get us younger, hungrier players that would be helped by our development coaches. “And Tommy is also a big believer — like us in ownership — that the world is a big place. He’s very fluent in the global view of basketball.”
Eventually, Leonsis didn’t see Sheppard as the extension of an outdated regime that he ousted, but the unleashing of a progressive mind who understood that the modern duties of a GM required the supporting cast that Leonsis has invested to bring to the franchise. “I like [Sheppard’s] dexterity to be able to deal with the existing NBA, but to also really look at it as a global enterprise,” Leonsis said. “My belief is that you can you do things fast. We have the wherewithal and resources and facilities and technology.
Chase Hughes: The Wizards have made a series of hires to restructure their front office. The big one is Sashi Brown as senior VP. Comes from NFL, last worked for Browns. Daniel Medina also hired to oversee player health. John Thompson III hired for player wellness. More soon @NBCSWizards.
On July 26, the Wizards can officially offer Beal a contract extension worth approximately $111 million over three years. But there is a long list of clues that suggest he will not take the offer.
How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a “trial run,” according to a person familiar with the process.
Chase Hughes: The Wizards have reached an agreement with Michael Longabardi to become an assistant on Scott Brooks’ staff, @NBCSWashington has learned. He comes from Cavs, defense is his specialty and he’s been part of two championship teams. The Post first reported he was interviewing.
The Washington Wizards have made Tommy Sheppard their permanent general manger, league sources confirmed to ESPN on Friday. Sheppard has held the job on an interim basis for the past three and a half months.
Candace Buckner: Also, The Post has learned the #Wizards have had preliminary talks with Cleveland Cavaliers defensive coach Michael Longabardi as a potential addition to Scott Brooks’s coaching staff. Details coming soon
Adrian Wojnarowski: Wizards plan to make announcement within next several days on Sheppard appointment as new GM, sources say. Terms on a deal still to be finalized. Sheppard won over ownership as the interim GM.
The Washington Wizards removed the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard’s title Friday, promoting him to be the 12th general manager in franchise history, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
As the general manager, Sheppard will lead the day-to-day operations like running the draft, making trades, communicating with players’ representatives and working with Coach Scott Brooks and Brooks’s staff. Over the next month, Sheppard is expected to make several additions within the basketball operations department.
Fred Katz: Sources at @TheAthleticDC: All indications point to Wizards interim GM Tommy Sheppard getting the full-time GM job, though no contract has been formalized yet. An official announcement from the team could come within the next week. Story coming soon.
Marc J. Spears: Kudos to #Wizards assistant coach Robert Pack for his mentoring of underprivileged kids in New Orleans through his non-profit Robert Pack Organization. He took the kids to the New York Stock Exchange today. Two other kids spent time in LA with @Chris Paul earlier this week. #NBA pic.twitter.com/gmqiIt0LwE
The No. 9 overall pick came in with high expectations, especially with an entire nation watching him. There were 61 Japanese media members covering Summer League, mainly featuring Hachimura, Grizzlies two-way player Yuta Watanabe, and free agent hopefuls Yudai Baba (Mavericks) and Makoto Hiejima (Pelicans). Now, his attention turns to the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where Hachimura will lead the Japanese national team ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The Washington Wizards’ sideline probably will look slightly different for the 2019-20 season, once the team makes intended internal coaching moves. The Wizards are in the preliminary stages of a shift that would promote Jarell Christian to an NBA assistant coach and have Ryan Richman take over the head coaching duties with their G League franchise, the Capital City Go-Go, according to several people with knowledge of the plans that have not yet been finalized.
The expected in-house moves reflect only minor alterations to Brooks’s staff, a unit that has remained relatively constant in his three seasons as Washington’s head coach. The staff also consists of veteran coach Tony Brown, former player Robert Pack, who coached the Wizards during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Mike Terpstra and Maz Trakh.
The National Basketball Association has invested in Nex Team Inc., a mobile artificial intelligence company that has developed HomeCourt, an iPhone-based training application aimed toward youth basketball players. Nex Team had already attracted a wide range investors, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Brooklyn Nets co-owner Joe Tsai, Mason and Miles Plumlee, Al Horford, Sue Bird, Steve Nash and Bradley Beal.
Steve Buckhantz was in the hospital when the dagger came. The decision itself was only so surprising. Really, Buckhantz had a strong suspicion that he’d called his final Wizards game in the spring, when NBC Sports Washington declined to exercise the option on his contract. Yet the network had left the door open to a possible return, pending auditions with other candidates, and so the recently enshrined D.C. Sports Hall of Famer, a DMV native, and lifelong Bullets fan, remained willing to return, to do the job he’d done for 22 years, calling the hometown team he’d spent his whole life loving. And then the call came Tuesday night, not long before The Athletic published a story reporting NBCSW had closed in on a single candidate, FOX’s Justin Kutcher, to replace Buckhantz in the booth.
There, in the emergency room, tending to his mother, who had suffered a fall Tuesday evening, Buckhantz officially got the news – about an hour before everyone else. “It puts everything in perspective, given that I’ve been in the hospital with my mom,” Buckhantz told The Athletic on Wednesday. “But the timing couldn’t have been any worse. It was a real gut punch.”
The entire process has been, in a word, cowardly. This would be true even if Buckhantz were not Steve Buckhantz. This would be true if he was a fresh, recent hire with no real track record. It would be true if he were wildly unpopular with fans and viewers. It would be true if even if he hadn’t long ago crossed the threshold into being the kind of comfortable, familiar broadcaster most professional sports franchises and broadcast partners do everything in their power to find, develop and retain – the voice Wizards fans instinctually hear in their heads, the soundtrack to their formative memories. It would be true even if Buckhantz didn’t provide some of the more enjoyable moments in an otherwise mostly moribund 22 years of professional televised basketball. The vast majority of Wizards fans online have argued against the merits of the decision itself.
The Washington Wizards’ sideline should look slightly different for the 2019-20 season as the team intends to make internal coaching moves. The Wizards are in the preliminary stages of a shift that would promote Jarell Christian to an NBA assistant coach and have Ryan Richman take over the head coaching duties with their G League franchise, the Capital City Go-Go, according to several people with knowledge of the plans that have not yet been finalized. Last year, Christian coached the expansion minor-league team in its inaugural season while Richman worked as one of the Wizards’ five assistant coaches.
Barry Jackson: Next significant event for Heat could be re-engaging with Wizards if Beal rejects three year, 111 M extension he’s eligible to sign after July 26. For now, Wizards have rejected all trade overtures on Beal, a potential 2021 free agent
Former Wizards Drew Gooden and Caron Butler are expected to share the TV analyst role alongside Kutcher, with Gooden calling a majority of the games. The analyst position became available when Kara Lawson, who served as Buckhantz’s broadcast partner for the past two seasons after she replaced Phil Chenier, was hired as an assistant coach by the Boston Celtics last month.
Wizards’ top spot: Team executive after executive had the same question when the Washington Wizards’ unresolved top front-office job opening came up. “Why not just give Tommy the job?” Tommy is Tommy Sheppard, the Wizards’ longtime exec, who has been running basketball operations since owner Ted Leonsis decided not to bring Ernie Grunfeld back. Sheppard ran the draft, free agency and the Wizards’ Summer League team, but he doesn’t have the full-time job.
After months of searching, NBC Sports Washington is making progress on finding Steve Buckhantz’s replacement. Fox’s Justin Kutcher has emerged as the leading candidate to be the next play-by-play voice of the Wizards, according to sources with knowledge of the hiring process. Kutcher, a Connecticut native, has worked for Fox since 2012 and has called college football, college hoops and MLB games during his time there. He first came to D.C. to interview and audition for the job in early May, according to a source.
Lawson left the booth this summer to become an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. It is not likely, per a source, that Phil Chenier, who once called games alongside Buckhantz, would return to his former position as the team’s regular in-game analyst. Chenier now works as a Wizards studio analyst for NBCSW.
“I am used to it now, especially after the draft. It was crazy talking English and Japanese back and forth. But I have gotten used to it,” Hachimura told The Undefeated. “One of my jobs is to represent Japan. People want to see me right now. I’m everywhere right now in Japan on TV, newspapers. I am doing it for my country and the little kids watching me.” Seeing a large Japanese media contingent following baseball players in America has been commonplace for a while. Major league baseball stars past and present, from Hideo Nomo to Ichiro Suzuki to Hideki Matsui to Yu Darvish to Shohei Ohtani, have primarily answered questions from the North American media in English through a translator and then in Japanese with their native media. That won’t be the case for Hachimura.
Hachimura will face pressure that’s unlike what most NBA rookies will experience next season. Answering questions separately for the North American and Japanese media will be a daily occurrence for him. He has already landed endorsement deals with Jordan Brand and Nissin Foods, which makes Cup Noodles, and said he has more on the horizon. Meanwhile, the spotlight will be on him later this summer when he suits up for Japan at the World Cup in China. But for this 21-year-old, who grew up in the social media age, all this attention is just part of his world. “It has been like this since I was a kid. It’s not like a big deal for me,” Hachimura said. “I want to be the face of Japanese athletes. That is why I have to do it.”
Bobby Marks: 14 2nd rd. picks have now signed contracts. Top 4 in salary for 2019-20. 33. Bruno Fernando (ATL)- $1.4M 34. Carsen Edwards (BOS)- $1.2M 48. Terance Mann (LAC)- $1M 42. Admiral Schofield (WAS)- $1M Nice job by @PrioritySports who represents Fernando, Edwards and Schofield.
Fred Katz: Admiral Schofield’s three-year deal with the Wizards is fully guaranteed for the first two seasons, per a league source. He’ll make $1M in 2019-20, a tad above the minimum. The third year of the contract is non-guaranteed.
Fred Katz: Justin Robinson’s three-year contract with the Wizards has a $250K partial guarantee for 2019-20, a league source said. This season guarantees if he’s not waived by Jan. 7. The other two years are non-guaranteed for now but have later trigger dates that could bump him up to $100K
John Wall or Bradley Beal, Wizards: League sources say that Beal isn’t currently available, though that could change by the deadline.
Around the league the extension is not viewed as a done deal and there is a growing belief that Beal will not remain in Washington for the entirety of his career. “He’s out of there,” one well-placed person within the NBA predicted.
Beal’s upcoming decision on a contract extension looms large over the team’s future. On July 26, exactly three years after Beal signed his supermax deal, the Wizards can officially present a three-year, $111 million extension. The team has previously indicated it plans to give Beal the offer, and both the player’s camp and the franchise have remained in contact throughout the summer.
A trade seemed like the farthest thing on Beal’s mind at the NBA Summer League. He squeezed in quality time with the Wizards before jetting to Atlanta to support his own AAU team. Inside Thomas & Mack Center on UNLV’s campus, Beal laughed easily and appeared relaxed, not at all stressed about his future. Still, many within the NBA wonder if this happy scene will merely stay in Vegas. “If he doesn’t accept [the extension],” said a rival general manager, “it will be a big blow to Washington.”
Fred Katz: The Wizards have signed Justin Robinson to a three-year deal, a league source said. Partial guarantees on each season.
Meanwhile, even though the Heat has displayed strong interest in trading for Washington guard Bradley Beal, Wizards vice president/basketball operations Tommy Sheppard told The Athletic that Washington has given no thought to trading Beal. “Not at all,” Sheppard said. “It’s never crossed our mind. Bradley is somebody we’re building around. He’s been involved with everything we’re doing in the draft, free agency. We need his opinion. We want this team to be a reflection of what he is all about.”
According to sources, there is sentiment inside the the Heat to take the final four years and $171 million of injured point guard John Wall’s contract if it would allow Miami to land Beal, who is eligible for free agency in the summer of 2021. But Washington appears unwilling to do that at this time.
Fred Katz: Jordan McRae has a partial guarantee on his contract for $200K that triggers today, per sources. He has a few more partials that would trigger before his contract would fully guarantee in December.
Gary Washburn: Isaiah Thomas on his #Celtics experience being the genesis for load management/players not playing hurt: “Sure I took a bullet. That’s in terms of max contracts, all that. People not playing to get their max deals. I took a bullet for sure.”
Gary Washburn: Isaiah cont: “I was going through other stuff (sister’s death) at that time, so basketball was the only thing that was helping me through that. But I feel like yeah, even with the Kawhi Leonard thing, he sat out for a reason. He seen my situation. The list goes on.” #Celtics
St. Louis native and NBA star Bradley Beal has joined the ownership group for the POWERplex. Beal is a graduate of Chaminade College Preparatory School and is a current player for the Washington Wizards.
“This is something that doesn’t just transform sports in our region. This place will change lives and impact kids for decades to come. I’ve never been more excited to make a dream become a reality,” said Beal who will headquarter his nationally ranked Bradley Beal Elite Basketball Club and training program at the facility.
Fred Katz: The Ish Smith signing is official. Tommy Sheppard statement: “We know him well from his years in the league as well as the time he spent with us in training camp. We look forward to the personality and veteran leadership he’ll bring to the team.”
When free agency started, you were linked to a number of teams and then ultimately signed with the Washington Wizards. Can you walk me through what this free-agency period was like for you and what factors you were considering? Isaiah Thomas: This free-agency period was all about opportunity. That’s what it came down to and what it was all about for me: being put in a position where I can be successful and having a big enough opportunity to show the world that I can still play at a high level. When the Wizards called and showed interest, with John Wall being out possibly the whole year, that seemed like a big opportunity for me to be able to showcase that I’m 100 percent healthy and that I can still play at the high level that I’m used to playing at. That was the biggest thing – that was the only thing – coming into this free agency. I’m excited. I’m excited just to join this Wizards team and I can’t wait to take advantage of this opportunity.
When people are writing you off and doubting what you’ll be able to do this upcoming season, what’s your reaction to that? Isaiah Thomas: I don’t really pay too much attention to it. I see it and it’s obviously there because I’m a big name and, for whatever reason, everybody always likes to talk about the things that are going on with me. But I don’t need it as motivation; I’m already really motivated. My kids motivate me. Being hurt motivated me and made want to get back to a high level. Those type of things don’t motivate me anymore. I don’t have anything to prove anymore. Everybody knows what I bring to the table when I’m healthy. All I need is the right opportunity and that’s all I’m focused on – getting better this summer, getting ready for this opportunity and taking full advantage of it. That’s all I care about.
When a player is dealing with injuries, everyone focuses on their physical health, but it seems like a lot of guys also struggle mentally when they aren’t able to play. There have been many players who have become depressed because their body is breaking down and they can’t do what they love. How have you managed to stay so positive and optimistic throughout this whole situation? Isaiah Thomas: I don’t want to compare my situation to anybody else’s, but the only thing I know how to do is keep going – no matter what. My sister passed away the day before a game and I still played. You know what I’m saying? All I know is to keep going. I really don’t know any other way. I’m going to keep pushing until I can’t anymore. That’s just how I’m built – it’s how I was born and raised. That’s never going to stop. Yeah, some days are tougher than others, especially when you’re going through rehab and going through injuries, you have your dark days and days when you feel like giving up. But at the end of the day, my ultimate goal is to be one of the best players to ever play this game and I still have so much time to prove that; I just need to get healthy. I do this for my kids and for my family, and they really inspire me to keep going when things get tough. I’m never going to quit. The easy thing to do is quit, but that’s not in me.
Chase Hughes: The Wizards have been interviewing candidates for a new assistant coach on Scott Brooks’ staff, @NBCSWashington has learned. Ideally, they hope to hire someone with a strong defensive track record.
Chris Haynes: There are approximately 12 teams attending this evening’s workout in Las Vegas featuring Amar’e Stoudemire and Monta Ellis. Among those are LA Lakers, Golden State, NY Knicks, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, Detroit and Washington.
After the Washington Wizards selected Issuf Sanon in the second round of the 2018 draft, he spent a turbulent season stashed in Slovenia. His team, Petrol Olimpija, which competed in three leagues, played through a coaching carousel and the instability forced Sanon out of the rotation. Sanon said he collected a “DNP-CD” — short for did not play, coach’s decision — for the final four months. But at least he had “Prison Break” to keep him occupied. “It was a good one,” Sanon said about the show, which became his unexpected English tutor.
Although Sanon did not develop on the court in the way he would have expected, he improved as an English speaker in part due to the now-canceled FOX television series about a man who hatched a scheme to spring his innocent brother from prison. With a better command of the language, Sanon, the 19-year-old Ukrainian guard who was the 44th overall pick last summer, has returned to the Wizards as a more confident player.
In a sign of his growing self-belief, Sanon, who has more two years remaining on his contract with the team in Slovenia, said before the team went to Las Vegas that he wanted to show the coaches that he belongs in Washington. “I’m happy to be here because it’s different for me,” Sanon said. “I’m ready to stay here. I’m going to do everything to stay here.”
Describe your time in Washington. Jabari Parker: Man, my time in Washington was everything and more. It was like being in jail for a couple of months, and then when you’re free, you just want to be yourself again and catch up on lost times. Those guys in Washington are always going to be on the top of my list as far as my loyalty goes.
What’s your next career move? Jabari Parker: It’s going to come real soon. It comes soon for everybody. I really want to be a philanthropist. I want to have a great career so I can do that and be involved with a lot of people from my neighborhood.
In a recent interview with the Sun-Times, Parker, who signed a two-year, $40 million contract with the Bulls last summer before it all fell apart by December and he was eventually traded, was asked about being dealt from his hometown team to the Wizards. “It was like being in jail for a couple of months, and then when you’re free, you just want to be yourself again and catch up on lost times,’’ Parker said. “I didn’t have to deal with inconsistencies. I didn’t have to deal with mind games. I had coaches there that were very mature — they were players’ coaches. That’s one thing I really loved about them.’’
Boylen wasted little time relegating Parker to the bench. Privately, the organization was also concerned that Parker was poisoning the water, especially relating to Zach LaVine, so he was moved by February in the trade for Otto Porter. After the mopey forward was gone, the thought was his short time with the organization was in the rearview mirror. Parker, though, had other ideas. Considering he’s still an unsigned free agent, a glance in the mirror could do him some good.
The Washington Wizards announced today that they have acquired a 2020 second round pick from the Chicago Bulls as a part of a sign-and-trade deal in exchange for guard Tomas Satoransky. In addition to that pick (which will be the higher pick between Chicago or Memphis), the Bulls also agreed to give the Wizards the right to swap 2022 second round picks and have removed the protection on the 2023 second round pick owed to the Wizards as a result of a previous trade. “We wish Tomas and his family the very best as he starts a new chapter in his career,” said Wizards Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Tommy Sheppard. “He worked very hard with our coaching and development staff over his entire time with the Wizards and it showed with the improvement in his overall game. The picks acquired allow us to continue to build for the future.”
Davis Bertans: A huge thank you to the @spurs organization and family, fans, coaches, staff and front office. Took a chance in a 18 year old kid from Latvia drafting me 8 years ago. Thank you is not enough. I’ll miss you San Antonio! But on the same note I’m excited for my new chapter and joining the @WashWizards I always take change as a new challenge and I can promise that I’ll do my best to help the team get as many wins as possible this season. Let’s go #DCFamily