Addressing the Wizards‘ John Wall/Russell Westbrook trade for the first time on Friday, general manager Tommy Sheppard said it wasn’t easy emotionally to move the former No. 1 overall pick. Although he’s relatively new to the GM role, Sheppard has worked in Washington’s front office since 2003 and watched Wall develop over the last decade.
“Just watching John become the man that he is today, it’s difficult to say goodbye,” Sheppard said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “On an emotional level, that was a very difficult trade for me, by far in my 27 years in this business.”
While it was hard to trade Wall, Sheppard believes it was the right move, and one that “definitely changes the future of the franchise,” as Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today relays.
“Russell’s resume speaks for itself,” Sheppard said of Washington’s new point guard. “It’s an opportunity to make the Washington Wizards a better franchise. … This is the right thing to do. We made that trade, and we move forward.”
Here’s more on the Wizards, with a focus on the Westbrook/Wall deal:
- A pair of Eastern Conference executives who spoke to Ava Wallace and Ben Golliver of The Washington Post like the Wizards’ acquisition of Westbrook, despite the inherent risk. “Washington improved because they have someone that can functionally play in the games and the head coach has deep familiarity with the player acquired. Totally worth the risk,” one exec said. “The bigger risk was returning someone from a dramatic injury that so heavily relied on speed to be effective.”
- Bradley Beal had his first media session of the season on Friday and acknowledged that the trade of Wall had made it an “emotional week.” Beal, who said he’d had several positive conversations with Wall this week, insisted that the “rumors and noise” about their relationship over the years were wrong. He also said that he’s on board with the team’s belief that Westbrook will make them better and is looking forward to playing alongside him (all Twitter links via David Aldridge of The Athletic).
- The Wizards believe that Westbrook’s and Beal’s “hyper-competitive personalities will harmonize,” Fred Katz of The Athletic writes within a story about why the Wizards and Rockets swapped point guards.
- The Wizards were among the teams that were able to hold their first group practice on Friday, having begun their coronavirus testing early, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Westbrook didn’t participate in today’s practice, but he arrived in Washington and is expected to be available for Saturday’s practice, Stein adds (via Twitter).
- Wall published a message on Twitter on Thursday to say goodbye to Wizards fans and to D.C.