Washington Wizards

Wizards Notes: Grunfeld, Morris, Wall

Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis is firmly behind team president Ernie Grunfeld, as well as the rest of the front office, and he explained his rationale for not making broader changes, writes Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post. “Because we were executing to the plan,” Leonsis said. “If we had varied from the plan and the plan didn’t work, then I think it would’ve been in my realm of responsibility to take a look. But we were executing a plan that we agreed to when I bought the team five years ago.”

Here’s more from Washington:

  • During exit interviews, many of the players on the Wizards indicated that they liked and admired Markieff Morris and they wanted to play alongside him on the court, according to Leonsis, as J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic passes along.
  • Leonsis also compared the Wizards‘ deal to acquire the power forward to the 2013 deal for Marcin Gortat, as Michael writes in the same piece. “Was [the Morris trade] on strategy or off strategy? Who did we get for Gortat. Would I trade Gortat for [Tyler] Ennis? The answer is yes,” Leonsis said. The Suns received the No. 18 selection of the 2014 draft as a result of the Gortat trade and they selected Ennis. Washington owes its first-rounder, currently slotted as the No.13 pick, to Phoenix as part of the Morris trade.
  • Newly hired coach Scott Brooks believes John Wall has a chance to grow his game even further and bring the Wizards to new heights, Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post writes. “He has another level, maybe two or three levels. Not only from a basketball standpoint, [but] from a leadership standpoint.” Brooks said. “He has the ability to be one of the best players in the game,”

Wizards Had Brooks Even Before Recruiting Visit

  • Scott Brooks had already decided he wanted the Wizards job if it were to be offered to him when team executives Ernie Grunfeld and Tommy Sheppard flew to California to recruit him in what turned out to be a 10-hour meeting, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post“I got everything I wanted, and I wasn’t looking for anything else,” said Brooks, whom the Wizards officially hired this week. “This is where I wanted to be.”

Wizards Notes: Brooks, Porter, Grunfeld

The Wizards believe they landed their ideal coach in Scott Brooks, whose success at the NBA level and track record of working with young players appealed to the franchise, relays J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic.com. “We felt like he was the perfect coach for our situation,” team president Ernie Grunfeld said. “His record speaks for itself. He’s been where we want to be, where we want to go to. The other thing we love about him is he developed young players.”

Brooks noted his respect for the team’s roster and stressed the need to establish a new culture, Michael adds. “I’ve been competing against this team for a lot of years,” Brooks said. “This day and age with NBA teams, you need two-way players to compete night in and night out. I have very simple rules and I always establish from the very start, ‘Your job is to play hard every night. The second job you have to do is play hard for your teammates. That’s who you’re playing for every night. You have to establish those goals early on. I believe the character of the group will embrace that.”

See more Wizards-related items:

  • Team owner Ted Leonsis is glad Brooks has a positive view of Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, notes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post, adding that the organization wasn’t pleased with the lack of playing time Porter received his first two seasons and the low minutes Oubre saw this year. Porter “didn’t take that next step” this season, Leonsis said, believing that Brooks will give him a chance to remedy that, tweets J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic.
  • The Wizards were compelled to move quickly to hire Brooks because of the amount of teams that were expected to be in the market for new coaches, Michael writes in a separate piece. Brooks had already been contacted by members of ownership from the Rockets and Timberwolves prior to Washington locking him up on a five-year deal, Michael adds.
  • Leonsis indicated that Grunfeld’s job was never in jeopardy this season, though matters would have changed had the executive deviated from the team’s plan, Castillo relays in a series of tweets. The plan the owner referred to was one geared toward gaining as much cap flexibility as possible for this summer, Castillo notes. Leonsis did add that he expected the team to be able to make the playoffs while executing this strategy and that missing out on the postseason was a disappointment, the scribe relays.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Wizards May Be Better Served To Avoid Max Free Agents

  • The Wizards have plenty of holes to fill with the approximately $28MM worth of cap flexibility the team will have this summer, and finding a reliable backcourt mate for John Wall should be at the top of Washington’s list of tasks, Bobby Marks of The Vertical opines in his offseason primer for the franchise. Marks also adds that landing Kevin Durant via free agency this summer is a long shot and the Wizards may be better served to spread the money around to build up their depth rather than spending it all on one max contract.

Wizards Pushed Hard To Trade For Ryan Anderson

  • The Wizards made a strong push to acquire Pelicans stretch four Ryan Anderson via trade at the deadline in February, but Washington didn’t want to give up the first-round pick that ultimately wound up going to Phoenix in the Markieff Morris deal, according to TNT’s David Aldridge. Morris is under contract for three more seasons while Anderson is set to hit free agency this summer.

Brooks Wasn't Co-Favorite For Rockets Job?

Brooks, Grunfeld Not Banking On Landing Durant

  • At his introductory press conference, new Wizards coach Scott Brooks sidestepped all questions regarding Kevin Durant coming to Washington, with GM Ernie Grunfeld stressing to reporters that Brooks was there to coach the team’s current roster and not to lure Durant, Stephen Wyno of The Associated Press relays.

Wizards Should Consider Signing Seth Curry?

  • If the Wizards intend to maintain their “pace-and-space offense,” they need a playmaker off the bench who’s capable of sinking the long ball and should consider signing Seth Curry, Ben Standig of CSN Mid-Atlantic.com writes. The Kings combo guard averaged 16.4 points, 5.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 45.9% from the field, including 48.9% from beyond the arc over Sacramento’s last seven contests, Standig notes. Curry, 25, has a player option on his deal for 2016/17 worth $1,015,696.

Wizards Hire Scott Brooks

Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images

Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images

The Wizards have officially announced the hiring of Scott Brooks as the team’s new head coach, confirming an April 21st report from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical that they had an agreement in principle (via Twitter). It’s a five-year arrangement that will pay Brooks approximately $7MM per season, according to Wojnarowski.

“Scott’s approach to the game, track record for player development and ability to communicate with his players made him the clear-cut choice to guide our team as we continue to rise as contenders in the Eastern Conference,” owner Ted Leonsis said in the team’s statement. “His accomplishments as a coach are matched only by his sterling reputation around the league and we’re confident that our fans and players alike will embrace and support him as he leads the way.”

In seven seasons as an NBA coach, all with Oklahoma City, Brooks has a regular season record of 338-207. His career postseason mark is 39-34.

Though a lag of several days took place between the reported agreement and the signing, there was apparently a time element involved in the negotiations, with Washington wanting to secure Brooks prior to the Rockets post opening up, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Brooks and Jeff Van Gundy were the reported co-favorites for Houston’s head coaching job. The Wizards and Brooks simply decided to take their time once the agreement was in place, tweets Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post, indicating that they didn’t hit any sort of snag.

“Scott was our top candidate and we moved quickly on an agreement to make him our head coach,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in the statement. “His presence, the core players we have returning and our cap flexibility this summer have us all looking forward to the possibilities of what our team can accomplish.”

The Rockets still haven’t officially decided the fate of interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who reportedly enhanced his chances of keeping the job when the team clinched a playoff berth on the final night of the regular season, but the latest reports appear to cast significant doubt on his return. Brooks was reportedly wary of the uncertainty surrounding Dwight Howard‘s player option, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com noted, even though Howard has long been expected to opt out. Stein reported earlier that the Rockets were second only to the Wizards among the options Brooks was considering but pointed to Houston’s focus on the playoffs as a disadvantage.

“I am beyond thrilled to return to coaching with a team that is filled with such potential and to be able to join an organization that is committed to helping us reach our goals,” Brooks said, according to the statement. “I’m very grateful to Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld for this opportunity and I can promise the great fans of Washington that we will work extremely hard both on and off the court to represent them in a manner fitting the most powerful city in the world.”

The hiring of Brooks is especially interesting given the looming unrestricted free agency of Kevin Durantwhom Brooks coached in Oklahoma City. Durant, who is from Washington, D.C., is almost assuredly going to be the franchise’s top priority this offseason, though reports have downplayed the idea that the Brooks hiring will be nearly enough to reel in the free agent prize.

Washington finished 41-41 this season but missed the playoffs. Former coach Randy Wittman guided the Wizards to back-to-back appearances in the second round of the playoffs the past two years, the first such accomplishment for the franchise since it made consecutive trips to the NBA finals in 1978 and 1979. However, a shift to a more perimeter-oriented attack this season fell flat, and multiple players publicly criticized the coach. These factors led to Wittman’s dismissal last week.

Wizards Notes: Wall, Brooks, Durant, Porter

Wizards point guard John Wall insists that hiring Scott Brooks as the team’s new coach wasn’t a ploy to attract Kevin Durant, according to Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The Wizards are expected to be among the teams pursuing Durant in free agency, and Brooks served as his coach for seven seasons in Oklahoma City. Wall said he is “very excited” to have Brooks on board and says the move is about the current team, not about getting Durant’s attention. “We didn’t sign Scotty Brooks to say, ‘Okay, Scotty, go get him. You got to bring us Kevin Durant,’” Wall said. “We got Scotty Brooks because we feel like he can help John Wall and make him a better player and make our team get to the next step. We didn’t get Scotty Brooks just to get Kevin Durant. That’s not what Scott is on board to do. And I hope everybody doesn’t expect just because we got Scotty Brooks, he’s automatically going to get K.D., he’s going to automatically jump.”

There’s more news from Washington:

  • Durant said he’s happy to see Brooks get the opportunity in Washington, but he dismissed the idea that it will affect his free agency decision, tweets Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. “I’m not really into theories,” Durant said. “I’m focused on [the playoff series with] the Mavericks.”
  • Otto Porter should continue to improve under Brooks, writes Ben Standig of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Standig expects Porter to be the clear starter at small forward entering next season and notes Brooks’ record of developing young players with the Thunder. Porter averaged 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this season and is under contract to the Wizards through 2016/17.
  • Dez Wells doesn’t seem likely to rejoin the Wizards as he tries to earn a spot in the NBA, according to J. Michael of CSNMid-Atlantic. Wells hooked up with Washington after going undrafted last summer but suffered a thumb injury in mini-camp before summer league play. He spent the season with Oklahoma City’s affiliate in the D-League and is expected to stay associated with the Thunder this offseason.

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