Will Dawkins

Southeast Notes: J. Davis, Dawkins, Micic, Isaac

Wizards guard Johnny Davis has played in all three of the team’s games since the All-Star break, averaging 17.0 minutes in those contests. While that’s a modest role, it represents a significant uptick in minutes for the former 10th overall pick, who had averaged 7.9 MPG in 23 appearances prior to the break.

“It feels really good,” Davis said, per Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network. “I feel like I’ve been preparing myself and putting in the work for this opportunity. When I go out there, I just want to do what it takes to help my team win.”

While the sample size is small, Davis has underwhelmed offensively in those three games, making 3-of-15 shots (20.0%) from the floor and compiling more fouls (9) than points (6). The Wizards also have an atrocious -31.9 net rating during his 51 minutes on the floor. Still, interim head coach Brian Keefe suggested he’s encouraged by what he’s seen on defense from Davis, who is celebrating his 22nd birthday on Tuesday.

“I thought he was great,” Keefe said after Davis spent some time guarding Cavs stars Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland on Sunday. “He got caught with one foul when he went for the pump fake, but other than that, Johnny’s been great. The last three games, his defense has been great. His defensive rebounding has been great. He brings great energy. That’s kind of the role we envision for him. He’s been a positive on the defensive end.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Wizards general manager Will Dawkins spoke to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman about how his time in the Thunder’s front office prepared him for a larger role in Washington and the lessons he learned in Oklahoma City that he has taken with him to D.C.
  • Vasilije Micic didn’t play much in Oklahoma City this season as an NBA rookie, but he has taken on a rotation role since being sent to the Hornets in the Gordon Hayward trade and has made an impression on new head coach Steve Clifford, according to Eurohoops. “He’s a talented player,” Clifford said of the former EuroLeague MVP. “His awareness and feel for the game are really exceptional. There’s still newness to us. The more organized we get offensively, the better he’ll play.” Micic has averaged 9.7 points and 6.0 assists in 22.2 minutes per game for the Hornets, who have gone 5-1 since his debut for the club.
  • Magic forward Jonathan Isaac has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game vs. Brooklyn due to a left knee strain, but he’s relieved that his MRI showed no significant issues and thinks he could be back in action on Thursday, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter video link). “I’m definitely still a little sore, so just kind of taking it day by day there, but I don’t foresee this being a multiple-game injury,” Isaac said.

Former Warriors Exec Bob Myers Likely To Get Job Offers

Bob Myers indicated that he wanted some time away from the game when he stepped down as president of basketball operations and general manager of the Warriors, but fans should expect to hear his name mentioned in connection to any openings that arise in the next few months, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

The most obvious team for Myers, according to Fischer, is the Clippers because of his longtime association with team consultant Jerry West and the working relationship they developed during their time together with Golden State. Myers spent more than a decade with the Warriors and helped to win four championships, so Fischer believes he’ll be among the first names that any team will call if it decides to shake up its front office.

Fischer identifies a few other former general managers who may be in line for a second chance, including ex-Utah GM Dennis Lindsey, who is currently working in the Mavericks‘ front office, Kings assistant GM Wes Wilcox, who has rebuilt his reputation after his experience in Atlanta, and former Orlando GM Rob Hennigan, who is VP of basketball operations with the Thunder.

Fischer passes along more information about rising stars in NBA front offices:

  • Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon was among the candidates to become the Wizards’ president of basketball operations and he’ll likely be considered for similar jobs in the future, Fischer writes. Raptors GM Bobby Webster, Cavaliers GM Mike Gansey and new Clippers GM Trent Redden all appear headed for team president roles someday, Fischer adds.
  • Jeff Peterson, the Nets‘ assistant GM, is considered one of the league’s best young executives, according to Fischer. Peterson interviewed for the Pistons’ GM slot in 2020, and Fischer hears that he’s viewed as one of the favorites to take over the Hornets if they decide to replace Mitch Kupchak, who’s in the final year of his contract. Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham could be first in line to replace Langdon if he leaves, but league sources tell Fischer that he might get an opportunity with another team before that happens.
  • Tayshaun Prince is a valuable member of the Grizzlies‘ front office and has received overtures about running other teams, according to Fischer. Among other former NBA players, Jameer Nelson has built a strong reputation in the Sixers‘ front office for his work with their G League affiliate, and Acie Law appears headed for a promotion with the Thunder after Will Dawkins was hired by the Wizards.
  • Fischer identifies CAA’s Austin Brown as an agent who might move into a front office role, noting that he was a candidate to run the Bulls in 2020. Fischer also singles out agents Jason Glushon and Todd Ramasar, along with Kirk Berger, a legal counsel with the players’ union.

Wizards Notes: Draft, Dawkins, Ownership, Trades

The Wizards possess the eighth pick in the first round of this year’s draft, along with the Nos. 35, 42, and 57 selections in the second round.

In previewing Washington’s draft, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic notes that newly installed Washington VP Travis Schlenk had a history of prioritizing players with a good court sense and solid shooting ability, as well as swingmen with high upsides, while with the Hawks.

Vecenie believes that the Wizards, who are clearly in position to prioritize talent over fit after trading stars Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis in recent days, should look to select the player on the board with the highest ceiling in the first round.

There’s more out of D.C.:

  • Wizards general manager Will Dawkins is looking forward to the scrutiny and pressure that will come along with his new gig, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. After 15 years spent in the Thunder’s front office office, Dawkins will get an opportunity to take on a larger role in D.C. As Wallace notes, while new team president Michael Winger will oversee the rosters of the Wizards, their G League affiliate the Capital City Go-Go, and WNBA squad the Washington Mystics, Dawkins will get to focus exclusively on the Wizards. “I’ll be more around on the day-to-day, having more conversations with the players and staff, allowing [Winger] to kind of free up and manage Monumental Basketball,” Dawkins said. “We’ll both be at games, talking to representation of our players, things of that nature. But [my role is] more so the scouting portion, managing that, making sure the building is humming and up to the standards we’re looking for.”
  • A Qatari wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, is purchasing a passive minority stake in Wizards ownership group Monumental Sports & Entertainment, worth approximately 5%, according to Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico. This marks the first time a sovereign wealth fund will be buying into U.S. team sports. “The NBA Board is currently reviewing a potential investment by QIA in Monumental Sports & Entertainment,” NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said in a statement (Twitter link via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today). “In accordance with the policy, if approved, QIA would have a passive, minority investment in the team, with no involvement in its operations or decision-making.”
  • Kristaps Porzingis, who will be traded to the Celtics, issued a parting statement to the Wizards team and fans (Twitter link). “Wiz Fans!!” Porzingis wrote, in part. “Thank you for showing me so much support, I truly appreciate it and [enjoyed] every night playing in front of you. Wishing you all success as I embark on the next chapter of my career.”
  • The three-team trade that will send Porzingis to Boston is a rare win for all three clubs involved, opines John Hollinger of The Athletic. In a separate piece, Hollinger writes that future salary cap considerations played a major part in the Warriors’ rationale behind the newly reported deal that will send out Chris Paul, acquired in the Beal trade, to Golden State in exchange for Jordan Poole and draft equity.

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 Hire Will Dawkins As No. 2 Basketball Executive

JUNE 8: The Wizards have announced the hirings of Dawkins and Schlenk, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

In addition, former Providence and Georgetown coach John Thompson III was promoted to senior VP of Monumental Basketball and will “be focused on exploring and implementing best practices for the Wizards, Mystics and Go-Go while ensuring accountability for excellence across the organization.” (Twitter link).

JUNE 5: New Wizards president Michael Winger plans to hire Will Dawkins to be his second in command of the basketball operations department, report Josh Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Ava Wallace of The Washington Post confirms the news (via Twitter). Marc Stein was first to report that Dawkins was a “strong candidate” to join the Wizards’ new-look front office.

Dawkins is currently the Thunder‘s vice president of basketball operations and has been with Oklahoma City since 2008. He initially got his start as an intern and steadily worked his way up to be a high-level executive.

Winger and Dawkins worked together from 2010-17 while with the Thunder. Winger was the Clippers’ GM from 2017 until May, when he was hired away to run Washington’s front office. Dawkins will report directly to Winger and will be tasked with overseeing the Wizards’ roster in a general manager-type role.

Dawkins is the second major hire Winger has made in the past week, joining senior vice president of player personnel Travis Schlenk. Schlenk, who was formerly the Hawks’ president of basketball operations, will oversee Washington’s player evaluation work at all levels (amateur, international, and professional).

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 reportedly wants to ensure he’s surrounded by strong player evaluators. Now he has two experienced executives to work alongside.

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.

Thunder Promote Rob Hennigan, Will Dawkins, Others

Following the spring departure of vice president of basketball operations Troy Weaver, the Thunder have announced a series of promotions within their front office, including the filling of Weaver’s old role. Those promotions are as follows:

  • Rob Hennigan to VP of basketball operations
  • Will Dawkins to VP of basketball operations
  • Jesse Gould to VP of strategy and analytics
  • Wynn Sullivan to VP of strategy and design
  • Brandon Barnett to director of player personnel
  • Nazr Mohammed to pro personnel evaluator and GM of the Oklahoma City Blue
  • Paul Johnson to assistant GM of the OKC Blue

The Thunder also confirmed the previously-reported hiring of former Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans as an amateur scout.

“We are proud of the continued evolution of our Executive Team and the promotions of many long-tenured Thunder team members,” executive VP of basketball operations Sam Presti said in a statement. “These individuals have demonstrated a consistent commitment to our vision for Thunder basketball on and off the floor, and we are grateful for their contributions. The continued leadership development of our entire staff is essential to our focus of sustaining an elite basketball infrastructure.”

The promotions of Hennigan and Dawkins are most notable, as they appear poised to take on more senior positions in the front office following Weaver’s exit. Hennigan is in his second stint with the franchise, having left Oklahoma City to become Orlando’s GM for five years from 2012-17, while Dawkins has risen through OKC’s basketball operations department for over a decade after starting as an intern in 2008.

Mohammed’s new role is also worth noting. The former NBA center first joined Oklahoma City’s front office in December 2017 and has gone through an “extensive post-playing transition program for former players” during his three years as an executive, per today’s announcement from the team.

Former Magic GM Rob Hennigan Rejoins Thunder

OCTOBER 2: The Thunder have officially announced Hennigan’s new role with the team, confirming in a press release that he has been re-hired as OKC’s vice president of insight and foresight.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Rob back to the Thunder,” Presti said in a statement. “He was here in the earliest stages of the organization in 2008 as we built the foundation for the Thunder that we are continuing to build from as we enter our 10th season in Oklahoma City.”

The Thunder also promoted Will Dawkins to VP of identification and intelligence.

SEPTEMBER 13: Three months after being dismissed by the Magic, veteran executive Rob Hennigan is returning to his old NBA home, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). League sources tell Scotto that the Thunder have re-hired the former Orlando general manager.

Hennigan, who spent five years as the Magic’s GM, was a member of the Oklahoma City front office before making the move to Orlando. During his final two seasons with the Thunder, Hennigan served as the club’s assistant general manager/player personnel. Before that, he spent two seasons as OKC’s director of college/international player personnel.

While Hennigan didn’t have much success in Orlando during his first stint as the head of a basketball operations department, reports in the wake of his firing suggested that he remained widely respected around the NBA, and would likely receive “attractive” offers from other teams.

It remains to be seen what Hennigan’s new title in Oklahoma City will be, but it’s worth noting that one of the Thunder’s assistant general managers, Michael Winger, left the franchise last month to become the Clippers’ new GM. It would make sense for Hennigan to help fill the hole created by Winger’s departure, rejoining old friends Sam Presti and Troy Weaver in OKC’s basketball operations department.