Wizards Hire Michael Winger To Run Front Office

MAY 25: The Wizards have officially hired Winger, the team announced in a press release. Winger and owner Ted Leonsis will immediately undertake a search for a No. 2 basketball operations executive to oversee the Wizards and Go-Go and report directly to Winger.

Michael’s vast experience and broad range of executive-level skills will provide stability, accountability and leadership for all of our basketball franchises,” said Leonsis. “His influence on helping to restore and sustain excellence at three different teams aligns with our goal of building championship contenders while his collaborative approach supports our shared services structure.”

MAY 24: The Wizards intend to hire Clippers general manager Michael Winger to run their front office, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to Wojnarowski, Winger’s title will be president of Monumental Basketball — Monumental Sports and Entertainment is the parent company that controls the Wizards. Winger will also be in charge of the WNBA’s Mystics and the Wizards’ G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go.

Josh Robbins of The Athletic, Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times, and Ava Wallace of The Washington Post have confirmed the news (all Twitter links) with their own sources.

As Greif notes (Twitter links), Winger was the No. 2 man in Los Angeles under Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank since 2017. According to Greif, since Winger’s responsibilities will also include two other teams, Washington’s organization is still looking for another front office member, presumably a GM, that only oversees the Wizards. That individual would report to Winger.

Winger has been an NBA executive for nearly two decades. He served as the Cavaliers’ director of basketball operations from 2005-10 and then was an assistant general manager with the Thunder under Sam Presti from 2010-17. Winger was atop the Wizards’ wish list for a new lead executive, per Wojnarowski.

Winger has drawn interest from rival teams since joining the Clippers, but he had consistently turned down those overtures until now. The Timberwolves, for instance, sought an interview with him when they were seeking a new head of basketball operations in 2019, but he opted to pass on that opportunity and remain in L.A.

Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon was the only other known candidate to interview for the Wizards’ front office vacancy, though they were linked to a few other names. A former first-round pick, Langdon started his front office career as a scout and assistant GM prior to claiming the Pelicans’ GM job in 2019.

Former Wizards president Tommy Sheppard was dismissed in April after the team went 35-47 and missed the play-in tournament and playoffs each of the past two seasons. The Wizards won a combined 59 games in Sheppard’s first two years in charge after he was promoted in 2019.

Determining what to do with Bradley Beal (max contract, no-trade clause), Kyle Kuzma (unrestricted free agent) and Kristaps Porzingis ($36MM player option) are among the most immediate questions facing the Wizards this offseason, as we noted in our preview. It will be interesting to see how Winger impacts the roster with the draft and free agency coming up in the next handful of weeks.

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