Michael Winger

Wizards Notes: Beal Trade, Winger, Porzingis, Black

The Wizardsdecision to trade Bradley Beal is a smart move that probably should have been made four years ago, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Robbins argues that Washington could have gotten much more in return for Beal in 2019 after John Wall suffered an Achilles injury that altered the future of the franchise. Beal had just finished his second All-Star season, and although the deal would have been controversial, the Wizards could have demanded a significantly higher price than what they’re getting from Phoenix.

Beal had become frustrated with the organization’s lack of progress, and former team president Tommy Sheppard had considered trading him at the 2022 deadline, according to Robbins. That plan fell through when Beal suffered a season-ending ligament tear in his left wrist, and Robbins speculates that Sheppard might still be running the team if he could have moved Beal at that point.

Sources tell Robbins that the Wizards are willing to work with the Suns to expand the trade if Chris Paul wants to be shipped to a contending team. The Clippers have been mentioned as a potential suitor for Paul, and Robbins believes Washington might be able to pick up at least one useful player and a draft pick in such a deal.

There’s more from Washington:

  • New president of basketball operations Michael Winger made a similar trade when he was with the Clippers, sending Blake Griffin to Detroit when L.A.’s front office decided his contract was an impediment to building a contender, notes Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. Golliver believes trading Beal was the right move, even if the Wizards didn’t get much in return, because the franchise now has financial flexibility and a commitment to start rebuilding. Golliver expects Winger to focus on developing players and collecting draft assets, the same way he did when he worked for the Thunder.
  • Kristaps Porzingis would become a valuable trade asset if he picks up his $36MM player option for next season, observes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Porzingis is accomplished both as an outside shooter and rim protector, connecting at 38.5% from long distance this season while averaging 1.5 blocks per game. He has become a more effective post scorer and may have moved past his health concerns by appearing in 65 games. Porzingis is only 27 and might not have a future in Washington if Winger is serious about a long-term rebuild.
  • The Wizards appear to be targeting Arkansas’ Anthony Black with the No. 8 pick in the draft, tweets Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. Multiple sources told her that Black was impressive during his workout and interview in Washington.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Wizards, Hornets, Curry, Hawks

Bradley Beal‘s future in Washington has become a popular subject of speculation around the NBA since it was revealed that new Wizards president of basketball operations Michael Winger has been given the power to launch a rebuild if he so chooses, Brian Windhorst stated during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN’s Get Up (YouTube video link).

“Michael Winger said he has not made up his mind yet,” Windhorst said. “But that indecision has led teams to keep a very close eye on the Wizards. They not only have Beal, but big free agents Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis.”

As Windhorst observes, if Winger and the Wizards were to consider moving Beal, trade negotiations would be complicated by the fact that the guard has a full no-trade clause and could veto any deal to an unfavorable destination. That will restrict Washington’s ability to maximize its return for the three-time All-Star.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Winger is at the top of the Wizards‘ new front office hierarchy, but he fully intends to delegate to his top lieutenants when it comes to draft preparation, as he tells Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I hope not,” Winger replied when asked if he intends to go on the road to scout players in his new role. “If I’m doing that, something has gone terribly wrong with Travis (Schlenk) and Will (Dawkins). They’re just much better than I am.”
  • Asked whether he’d consider joining the Hornets in free agency, Seth Curry didn’t rule out the possibility of signing with his hometown team, according to Sam Albuquerque of The Greenville News. Curry was born in Charlotte, where his father Dell Curry played for 10 seasons and is currently a color commentator on Hornets broadcasts. “You always think about it,” Seth said. “Growing up a Hornets fan, watching my dad play, you always think about one of us wearing that No. 30 Hornets jersey in the modern era. But like I always say, you never know in this league.”
  • The Hawks, who hold the 15th and 46th overall picks in next week’s draft, are continuing their busy pre-draft workout schedule this week. Malcolm Cazalon (KK Mega), Bryce Griggs (Overtime Elite), Uros Plavsic (Tennessee), JT Shumate (Toledo), Terquavion Smith (NC State), and K.J. Williams (LSU) visited the team on Tuesday, with Mouhamed Gueye (Washington State), Jarkel Joiner (NC State), David Singleton (UCLA), and Malachi Smith (Gonzaga) set to join Jamarius Burton and Osun Osunniyi at Wednesday’s workout.

Wizards Notes: Winger, Dawkins, Schlenk, Draft

In an outstanding piece for The Athletic, Josh Robbins details Michael Winger‘s journey from his days as a college student in Ohio to becoming the new president of the Wizards.

While attending Miami University, Winger saw a flyer stating that Ron Shapiro, a powerhouse baseball agent who represented several Hall of Fame players, was giving a talk on campus. Shapiro, who is also the father of Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro, became a mentor to Winger and wound up helping him get his start in the NBA, according to Robbins.

It is gratifying for me to see Mike do everything that he has done because it’s like one of my own children doing those things,” Ron Shapiro said. “And it’s gratifying to me to see Mike not only be the professional that he is, but to be the person that he is. He is kind and he’s sensitive and he’s caring and he’s strong.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Within the same story, Robbins asked Winger about his plans for the team. He says he wants to get to know the players off the court before he makes any major decisions. “If the visions align for being competitive and doing things the right way with a little bit of patience, absolutely there’s a path forward with them (Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis),” Winger said as part of a larger quote. “I don’t think we’re going to be an overnight title contender; that I’m pretty confident about. And so, if they would rather pursue immediate winning, then they probably do have to pursue that somewhere else. But I think that there’s a very open dialog, a very open invitation to talk about the future of the team — the near-term future and the long-term future — and see where goals align and see where they don’t align.”
  • In another story for The Athletic, Robbins provides some highlights of the introductory press conference featuring Winger, new GM Will Dawkins, new VP of player personnel Travis Schlenk and owner Ted Leonsis. “The eventual expectation is that we’re going to build a generational contender,” Winger said. “We’re going to eventually have a team that is competing for championships. I can’t promise when that will be. But there’s no excuse for the lone NBA team in Washington, D.C., not to be a perennial contender or at least be pursuing championships. So, that’s the goal. The goal is to pursue championships by any means necessary. It’ll take time.”
  • As David Aldridge of The Athletic writes, the Wizards now have a group of high-level executives with varied backgrounds and experiences, and their preexisting relationships with key personnel around the league should help the organization moving forward. Dawkins said the team will be very focused on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement once it’s released. “Whenever (the CBA) comes out, and we’re obviously able to see it, you spend time with it, work with it,” Dawkins said. “And the goal is to find the advantages. And the team that learns it, and can find those advantages early on, is the team that’s going to find those benefits earlier.”
  • While Winger made it clear he would be accountable as the team’s primary decision-maker, Dawkins will run the day-to-day operations of the Wizards and Schlenk will oversee the team’s scouts and all player evaluations, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Still, the group said it will be a collaborative effort. “We’ve all had a lot of shared experiences at high levels, and once you put all that in a room, it’s going to be a little janky for a little bit,” Dawkins said. “We’re going to figure it out, stumble on some toes, but we’ll realize, hey, you’re better at this, or, hey, your idea works here. But there’s no such thing as a bad idea. The more you throw it out, the more I’ll be able to apply it to something else down the line or another way of thinking. I’m excited. Those guys are going to be easy to work with.”
  • Winger said Dawkins and Schlenk will primarily be handling the upcoming draft, which takes place June 22, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Dawkins is confident the Wizards will find the right group of players on draft night despite the new-look front office being hired within the past couple weeks.  “The draft doesn’t start right now. The draft started two, three or four years ago. That’s the mindset that we’ll have. I will say this: we’re not playing from behind at all,” Dawkins said. The Wizards control the Nos. 8, 42 and 57 picks.
  • According to Hughes, Schlenk provided some insight into what he values when it comes to scouting. “One of the big things I’ve always focused on… is the character of the person,” Schlenk said. “That’s extremely important. These guys spend so much time together. If you have somebody that kind of brings down the environment every day, it can really be a drag on the team. That would be one of the first big things.”

Wizards Notes: Schlenk, GM, Winger, Offseason, Richman

Having reached an agreement to join the Wizards as the team’s senior VP of player personnel, Travis Schlenk will oversee Washington’s player evaluation work at all levels (amateur, international, and professional), according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who says scouts will report to Schlenk.

While new team president Michael Winger will have the final word on personnel moves, Schlenk’s input will carry “significant weight,” writes Robbins, as will that of the executive that the Wizards eventually hire in a general manager-type role. Winger hasn’t offered that position to anyone yet, sources tell The Athletic.

As Robbins explains, Winger’s previous work has focused less on player evaluation and more on bigger-picture roster construction and strategy, as well as navigating the CBA and salary cap, so he wants to ensure he’s surrounded by strong player evaluators in Washington’s new-look front office.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • According to Marc Stein at Substack, the word in league circles is that the Wizards offered Winger an annual salary in the neighborhood of $9MM to lure him away from the Clippers to become the new head of basketball operations in D.C.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington lists five major decisions Winger will have to make within his first few months on the job, starting with hiring a general manager. The Wizards’ new president will also have to determine whether or not to keep the team’s “big three” (Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle Kuzma) intact and figure out whether or not to sign Deni Avdija to an extension this offseason.
  • Assistant coach Ryan Richman is leaving the Wizards and taking a job as the head coach of the Seahorses Mikawa, a Japanese team, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Winger, Hornets, Hawks’ Coaches, Bitadze

New Wizards president Michael Winger loves the idea of building a foundation and he’s eager to use the lessons he learned during his time with the Cavaliers, Thunder and Clippers, writes Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. Winger is taking on one of the NBA’s biggest challenges in the Wizards, who haven’t posted a 50-win season in 44 years. He’s inheriting a team that’s desperately in need of a makeover after missing the play-in tournament, but he welcomes that opportunity.

“I wouldn’t want a ready-made organization,” he said. “That’s not very exciting. It’s going to be a matter of establishing a culture and creating an identity that we can latch onto and carry into the next half-decade. Sometimes, change for the sake of change accelerates progress.”

Winger had been with Los Angeles since 2017 and he helped team president Lawrence Frank oversee the transition from the Chris PaulBlake Griffin era to the new-look Clippers built around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Winger comes highly recommended as he looks to perform a similar roster remake in Washington.

“One thing that separates Michael from others is his ability to be a couple steps ahead,” Frank said. “It’s one thing to know what you’re trying to get accomplished. But Michael can show you how the pieces on the board need to move to get it done, and how one move can set up the next. That’s invaluable.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak has a talent for finding useful players late in the draft, and he’ll have an opportunity again this year as Charlotte holds five selections, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. They Hornets landed the second slot in the lottery, and they control picks No. 27, 34, 39 and 41 as well. Charlotte has been holding workouts with a lot of players projected to go in that range, including Saturday’s session with Serbian forward Nikola Djurisic. “So at the combine, I hit some shots. I was hitting shots — five in a row, six in a row, which I think the scouts from the clubs can see me shoot, differently from in the game or practice,” Djurisic said. They could see me shoot. But I’m not worried about the 3-point shot because it will come with hard work. But they could see I’m athletic.” 
  • Bryan Bailey, Antonio Lang, Mike Brey and Sanjay Lumpkin will be announced as members of Quin Snyder‘s coaching staff with the Hawks, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Jeff Watkinson and Steven Klei will be retained from the current staff, sources tell Carchia.
  • The Magic have a team option on Goga Bitadze for the 2023/24 season, and Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel suggests that the aggressive rebounding he displayed during his brief time in Orlando will make them consider picking it up. Bitadze averaged 5.8 points and 5.2 rebounds after signing with the Magic in February, and he was the team’s primary backup center by the end of the season.

Wizards’ Michael Winger Talks New Role, Clippers Tenure, Beal, More

Having passed on the opportunity to interview for a general manager role with at least one other NBA team in the past, Michael Winger tells Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times that he had begun to wonder whether he’d get an opportunity to become the lead executive in a front office. That was the impetus for his decision to pursue the job as the Wizards‘ president, a position he officially secured on Thursday.

“Seldom, I think, in pro sports do those opportunities come along where almost all of your boxes, if not all of your boxes, are checked,” Winger said. “And this was I think the rare and supremely fortunate opportunity for somebody like me to check all the boxes: ownership, market, fan base, already a talented team.”

Winger has some familiarity with the Washington area already, as Greif notes. The former Clippers general manager lived in Baltimore during his final year of law school and often visited friends in D.C. during that time.

“I just felt like if I’m ever going to challenge myself, now’s the time and (Wizards owner) Ted (Leonsis) is the right person,” Winger said. “I think D.C. is the right fan base.”

Here’s more from the new Wizards executive on the challenges that await him in D.C. and the six years he spent in Los Angeles as the Clippers’ GM:

  • According to Winger, he achieved most of his goals with the Clippers over the last six years, having helped turn the franchise into a desirable destination for stars. Of course, there’s one notable goal that will go unresolved. “I would have liked to have won one or more championships in the four years that we’ve had Paul (George) and Kawhi (Leonard), but every team that tries to win a championship and doesn’t wishes that they would have won a championship,” Winger told Greif. “I mean, certainly winning at the highest level would have been awesome. What else? That’s really it.”
  • Winger added that he still has full confidence that George and Leonard are a “championship tandem” capable of leading the Clippers to a title: “I believe that to my core that those two guys when healthy can absolutely win a championship, so I’m a little sad that I’m not gonna be there when they finally do.”
  • Most of Winger’s conversations with Leonsis during the interview process focused on a “big-picture vision” for the Wizards rather than on specific roster moves, writes Greif. The plan is to dig deeper into specific plans for the roster once Winger brings in a second executive who will focus exclusively on the Wizards in a GM-type role.
  • Winger said he’s thrilled about the prospect of having Bradley Beal as the cornerstone of Washington’s roster: “His former coaches, his former teammates, they all have extraordinarily high regard for him, and he is unequivocally a superstar. The hardest thing to do in the NBA is acquire a superstar talent and it’s even harder to acquire superstar talent with his level of character. And so, I think it’s an extremely, extremely fortunate starting point. So to me, that’s really exciting to have somebody like Brad on the team.”
  • Winger is confident that Leonsis will “put forth both the resources and the patience” to build the Wizards into an organization with a winning culture, pointing to Leonsis’ work with the NHL’s Washington Capitals as proof of his ability to steward a successful franchise. “It’s just a matter of taking some of those principles, injecting the equivalent of the NBA’s nuances into those principles, and hopefully building something that is sturdy, sound, attracts good players, attracts good staff, keeps good players, keeps good staff, and ultimately wins basketball games,” Winger told Greif.

Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis Not Opposed To Rebuild

New Wizards president Michael Winger will have “carte blanche” to reshape the team’s roster, and owner Ted Leonsis isn’t opposed to a rebuild if that’s what Winger has in mind, a league source tells Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

Leonsis has been rumored to be opposed to tearing down the roster and building through the draft in the past, so this could be a pivot point for the franchise. It will be interesting to see which direction Winger goes.

Winger’s decision-making power won’t be limited to just the Wizards’ roster, as he will have “wide latitude” to reshape the organization’s infrastructure, including the front office and coaching staff, according to Robbins. The 43-year-old had been the Clippers’ GM since 2017.

Both Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic have heard from sources who say Winger will submit a five-year plan to Leonsis that will be updated after every year. Washington’s owner “wanted someone who’d take big swings, in a big market,” according to Aldridge’s source. Leonsis has assured Winger he’s willing to pay the luxury tax if necessary in the future, Aldridge adds.

Winger, who is a lawyer and has an analytics background, is known as a “big-picture” thinker who has extensive experience handling contract and trade negotiations, as well as navigating the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and salary cap, per Robbins and Aldridge.

A source tells Aldridge that Winger isn’t afraid to voice his opinion, as he was one of the few Clippers executives who had reservations about the Paul George trade with the Thunder — which was tied to Kawhi Leonard signing with L.A. as a free agent — because Winger believed the Clippers were giving up too many first-round picks.

Leonsis also owns the NHL’s Washington Capitals, WNBA’s Mystics, and the Wizards’ G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. Winger will oversee the Wizards, Mystics and Go-Go.

Although one report suggested Winger might not hire a No. 2 executive until after the draft and free agency, the team stated the search will be undertaken immediately, and Robbins’ sources inform him that Winger will look to hire someone within the next couple weeks. The new hire will likely have a “relatively traditional basketball background,” per Robbins.

Marc Stein reports (via Twitter) that Thunder vice president of basketball operations Will Dawkins is considered a “strong candidate” for the position. Dawkins worked with Winger for several years in Oklahoma City, Stein notes. Dawkins got his start as an intern with the Thunder in 2008 and has steadily worked his way up in the basketball operations department.

Aldridge believes hiring Winger is a step in the right direction, because it shows Leonsis isn’t satisfied with the status quo. The Wizards have posted five straight losing seasons and haven’t had a 50-win season since 1978/79.

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.

Winger To Have “Carte Blanche” Over Wizards’ Roster

New team president Michael Winger, who had been the Clippers’ GM since 2017, will have “carte blanche” to potentially overhaul the Wizards‘ roster going forward, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.

Winger has been tasked by owner Ted Leonsis to develop an “identity” as well as “setting a fresh direction for the team,” according to Wallace.

Echoing a previous report, Wallace says Winger will hire a “general manager-type figure” to focus solely on the roster, though she suggests that may happen after the draft and free agency. Winger is also responsible for the WNBA’s Mystics and the G League’s Capital City Go-Go, which are owned by Leonsis’ Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the parent company that controls the Wizards.

The veteran executive is expected to be “empowered” to change the team’s coaching staff as well, Wallace reports. However, it sounds unlikely that head coach Wes Unseld Jr. will be going anywhere, at least for now, as he’s a favorite of Leonsis and is well-regarded within the Wizards, sources tell Wallace.

Wallace writes that Winger has a positive reputation amongst work colleagues, who refer to him as a “crucial voice” within the Clippers who is known as a “fair negotiator ready to lead his own organization.” While the 43-year-old didn’t speak to the media as a Clippers executive, Wallace hears he’s a “strong internal communicator” who’s adept at breaking down advanced concepts, including aspects of the CBA, into “layman’s terms.”

He’s really good at seeing the whole board,” one executive who has worked with Winger told Wallace. “He’s super organized and really smart. Process-driven to the nth degree. He won’t be reckless or let his team make big mistakes.”

Pacific Notes: James, Moneke, Vezenkov, Suns, Winger

LeBron James twisted his left ankle in the late going of Game 2 against the Nuggets on Thursday but the Lakers’ superstar said he’ll play in Game 3, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. James, who has dealt with right foot problems this season, stepped on Anthony Davis‘ foot. “A little ankle [injury] isn’t going to stop me,” James said.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Chima Moneke, who played two games with the Kings this season before signing with AS Monaco in the EuroLeague, fully expects league MVP Sasha Vezenkov to play for his former NBA team next season, Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.net writes. Sacramento holds Vezenkov’s NBA rights. “I know that they love him over there. They’re really excited to bring him over,” Moneke said. “I believe they’re going to do what it takes to implement him on the team. I think he can contribute in a lot of ways.”
  • The Suns have gotten numerous inquiries from college coaches regarding their head coaching job, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. While Rankin doesn’t reveal any specific names, he notes that owner Mat Ishbia is extremely close to his former college coach, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.
  • Clippers general manager Michael Winger has interviewed with the Wizards in Washington’s search for a top executive. However, there’s skepticism around the league that Winger, one of the highest paid GMs in the league, will leave the stability of his current job, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.