The Washington Wizards have gone over 10 weeks without a long-term front office head since firing former team president Ernie Grunfeld on April 2. Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Tommy Sheppard has done a good job on an interim basis, but it appears Ted Leonsis would like to retain him in his No. 2 role in an ideal world.
The Wizards swung big and missed out on Denver Nuggets executive Tim Connelly returning home. For now, they have opted not to pull the trigger on the likes of Oklahoma City’s Troy Weaver or former Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks head man Danny Ferry.
NBC Sports Washington’s Ben Standig first reported Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri being intrigued by the Wizards vacancy over a month ago and then recently detailed what a potential offer could look like, namely equity in Monumental Sports and Entertainment that owns the Wizards, Capitals, Mystics, and many other smaller organizations. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote similarly minutes after Toronto won the 2019 NBA championship. Less than 24 hours later, however, the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner reported that the Wizards were not expected to reach out to the Raptors to request to speak to Ujiri imminently.
Before Buckner’s report, there were still many obstacles that would probably keep Ujiri away from the Wizards and their six-year, $60 million monetary offer. Terms according to The Athletic’s David Aldridge and Fred Katz.
- Why would Ujiri want to leave an organization that just won the championship for one that missed the playoffs and is trying to get the stink of dysfunction out of the building?
- Anything Washington offers can probably be matched by Toronto. Heck, Ujiri could pull a Connelly and just use the Wizards’ interest to angle a pay raise.
- The Wizards cap and asset situation is terrible. Washington only has $12.5 million in cap space available this summer with only eight players under contract. Unless John Wall is able to return to five-time All-Star form, his four-year, $170 million supermax extension will be tough to build around. They currently do not have a second-round pick until 2023.
- Does Ujiri want Scott Brooks as his head coach for the upcoming season and/or Tommy Sheppard as his deputy? If those answers are yes then ok, but they are no that just means more vacancies you have to scramble to resolve with training camp just over three months away.
Those are just some of the detractions that come with being in charge of the Wizards front office right now. It is clear that Sheppard is in charge of the June 20 NBA draft and being advised by the rest of Grunfeld’s former staff. With free agency also right around the corner, he could be in charge of the beginning parts of that frenzy, although Washington will probably not be that active on any of the Tier A or B options. Maybe Leonsis tries to reach out to Ujiri after the Raptors hold their parade and Kawhi Leonard potentially leaves in a few weeks. The only thing that is known for sure is that the Washington Wizards will not have a long-term front office head for at least the next few days or even weeks, at the earliest.