Ted Leonsis

Wizards Rumors: Bertans, Rebuild, Ujiri, Grant

When the Spurs traded Davis Bertans to the Wizards this offseason, they viewed it as a necessary step to open up their mid-level exception to sign Marcus Morris. However, after Morris reneged on his agreement with San Antonio, Gregg Popovich was upset to have lost Bertans in the process.

As Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks acknowledged that Popovich praised the Latvian forward when the two coaches talked over the summer. While Bertans was known for his shooting ability, Popovich believed the former Spur could take on a more dynamic role.

“[Popovich] is a good scout,” Brooks said on Wednesday, per Hughes. “He nailed it on [Bertans] when I talked to him over the summer. He said, ‘[Davis] is more than a shooter.'”

Bertans is making good on Popovich’s scouting report so far, exhibiting an ability to handle the ball and create his own shot. The 27-year-old may also be turning into a valuable trade chip for the Wizards, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link).

“Bertans is a difference-maker when it comes to his play on the court,” a scout told Marks. “Don’t be surprised if teams are willing to give up a first-rounder for him closer to the deadline.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis doesn’t necessarily believe that the team needs to endure a long, painful rebuilding process before returning to contention, as Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes. “Next year, we’ll have John Wall back. We’ll have a little bit of space under the salary cap,” Leonsis said. “I think the NBA is very different this year than it’s been in the past, and I stick with, I think, our turnaround can be quick and fast, but we don’t have any expectations about wins and losses. It’s more about culture, identity and what players will be with us on a long-term basis.”
  • In an in-depth profile of Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, Trevor Cole of Toronto Life says the Wizards “unofficially” conveyed to Ujiri this past offseason that they’d be willing to give him whatever he wanted – including a stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the Wizards – to run their front office. The Wizards denied reports of their interest in Ujiri in June.
  • The Capital City Go-Go – Washington’s G League affiliate – claimed Jerian Grant off waivers earlier this week, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. Grant, a former first-round pick with four years of NBA experience under his belt, recently signed a G League contract following a brief stint in China.

Wizards Notes: Offense, Bertans, Beal, Wall

The Wizards are shooting more three-pointers than ever before, as I recently detailed on NBAMath. In fact, every Wizards’ rotation player is experiencing a career-high in three-pointers shot per game.

Washington is currently 1-4 on the year but the team’s offensive efficiency ranks sixth in the league. That’s an improvement on last season, when the Wizards were league average in the stat. The offseason of change in the nation’s capital has led to improvement on at least one side of the ball. Now, the defense is a story for another day.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post examines the Moritz Wagner and Davis Bertans pairing. The duo came to the Wizards in separate trades this offseason.
  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis insists that Bradley Beal and John Wall have a better relationship than various reports over the years have suggested, as Matt Weyrich of NBC Sports relays. “Brad and John are way closer than the media portrays,” Leonsis said on The Habershow podcast. “They are also deeply immersed in the culture of the NBA and history of the NBA. Having a great backcourt is priority one and why would you want to, if you’re a great player, be a sidekick, if you will. And is that leading to happiness? I mean that’s the amazing thing that you see. You’ve never seen as many unhappy people as you’re seeing in the NBA.”
  • Beal recently signed an extension to stay with the Wizards for two additional years. Leonsis is happy with the new deal and talked about how he couldn’t understand why top players would go somewhere where they are not a top option. “If you get a young player and they’re a part of building your culture and the team, the culture really becomes theirs,” Leonsis said. “That’s the key thing and so if you’re gifted, and you’re gonna get paid in the NBA, why go play and be the third wheel? It’s counter-intuitive to me. Like, it’s LeBron’s team in LA. How’d it go last year? Did anyone look happy in L.A.? So Brad and John and the players here, they’re a part of something and it’s gonna be really, really hard. But [they’re] in it together.”

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Chalmers, Isaac, Wall

The Heat will need to use Justise Winslow at either point guard or power forward to optimize their other main wing options, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines in his latest mailbag. Putting Winslow at the ‘one’ or ‘four’ would allow coach Erik Spoelstra to play rookie Tyler Herro and Dion Waiters more often with the team’s top player, Jimmy Butler. If Winslow ends up playing regularly at small forward, Spoelstra would have to choose between Herro and Waiters as a mainstay in the rotation, Winderman adds.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • A reunion between the Heat and point guard Mario Chalmers is unlikely at this point, Winderman writes in another mailbag post. Chalmers, 33, is aiming for an NBA comeback after playing in Italy last season. However, even if the Heat are interested, they’d have to release Kendrick Nunn in order to create a roster spot for Chalmers since the team is hard-capped, Winderman notes.
  • Entering his third season, Magic forward Jonathan Isaac is brimming with optimism over his team’s future after it reached the playoffs last season. Isaac likes the team’s continuity after it re-signed key free agents Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, as he told John Denton of the team’s website. “We’re all hyped up for the season,’” he said. “And I’m sure as guys get together and start playing again, we’ll have more of those talks about, ‘Hey, we can go even farther than we did last (season).'”
  • The Wizards are closely monitoring John Wall‘s rehab process as he works his way back from a ruptured Achilles, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. They are even providing owner Ted Leonsis with daily progress reports. “I used to start my day reading the Washington Post. Now I start my day reading [and watching] my daily John Wall exercise video,” Leonsis told Hughes.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Waiters, Heat, Leonsis

The Wizards are eyeing their own version of load management with a new commitment to sports science this season, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes.

Washington hired the likes of Dr. Daniel Medina and Mark Simpson in preparation, Buckner notes, with the team also creating the Monumental Basketball Athlete Care and Performance department to help monitor the workloads of each active player on the year.

“I think we did a good job in the past,” GM Tommy Sheppard said of managing players’ minutes. “I just think there are opportunities to add to that and certainly that’s what Danny’s expertise and Mark’s expertise will blend very well. It’s really trying to individualize a lot more.”

The Wizards have worked hard to protect superstar Bradley Beal in recent seasons, with the 26-year-old not missing a single game over the past two years. Beal led the league in minutes per game with 36.9 last season, however, leaving Sheppard and others to take all factors into consideration.

“The fact that he was able to perform at the level that he did, I think proves that [he was healthy]. Now, can we bring his minutes down? Sure. But is it the right thing to do? Is that the best thing for Bradley? Is it the best thing for the Wizards?” Sheppard said. “What I think is exciting about the staff we have assembled and the people that we’re blending in, that’s for everybody, the collective, to come up with. That’s where we are right now. We haven’t made any conclusions yet.” 

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Heat could greatly benefit from having the old Dion Waiters back to form this season, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Waiters, who averaged 15.8 points in 46 games with Miami during the 2016/17 season, received a career-low 25.9 minutes in his 44 contests last season. He’s mostly dealt with injuries in recent years, causing him to miss over half of his games in a Heat uniform.
  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman ponders whether the Heat will continue scanning the market for a leading man after acquiring Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia this offseason. Miami has long been linked to Bradley Beal, though the Wizards have maintained he’s off limits in trade conversations.
  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis called a number of people for advice before organizing the team’s new basketball operations department, Candace Buckner details for the Washington Post. Leonsis spoke with the likes of Gregg Popovich, Adam Silver, Barack Obama and 75 others involved in business and professional sports, Buckner notes.

Eastern Notes: Harris, Satoransky, Leonsis, Heat

Nets shooting guard Joe Harris could double his salary in free agency next summer, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Harris will make $7.67MM during the upcoming season and Scotto notes that veteran shooting guards received well above that figure in free agency this summer. Danny Green signed a two-year, $30MM deal with the Lakers while J.J. Redick got a two-year, $26.5MM contract with the Pelicans.

Harris might get even more, as Scotto points out that several other comparable shooting guards are making between $17.2MM and $20MM this season. The Nets hold Harris’ Bird Rights, giving them the inside track on signing him.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Tomas Satoransky‘s price tag became too much to bear for the Wizards in restricted free agency, as Fred Katz of The Athletic details. The Bulls offered him a three-year, $30MM contract and Washington felt that was too much for a player who’d be a backup once John Wall returned from his Achilles injury. A sign-and-trade was worked out that brought back a 2020 second-round pick and other considerations to Washington. Satoransky wasn’t disappointed. “I always felt like, for me, it was always harder than for others,” he said of his experience in Washington. “I had to always keep proving (myself) to people. And I always felt like, ‘Man, I’ve done enough to have that.’ So, I felt this needs a new start.”
  • Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis will be more visible with a new front office structure in place, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “Our owners are going to be more involved,” Leonsis said. “You constantly have to gauge back and forth: is it good to be involved, or is it not good to be involved? Every agent, every player that I’ve talked to said the more they see Raul Fernandez and Laurene Powell-Jobs and me, the more connected they feel to what our vision and what our ultimate plan is.”
  • Any package that the Heat would send out in a potential Bradley Beal and Wall deal with the Wizards would need to include James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow and Kelly Olynyk for salary-matching purposes, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. Trading for Beal alone would probably require the Heat to give up their three best assets, Bam Adebayo, Winslow and Tyler Herro, but they wouldn’t realistically be able to attach a draft pick until next June, Jackson adds.

Wizards Notes: Leonis, Sheppard, Brown, Medina, Roster

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis believes the franchise can make a quick turnaround, as he told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. He believes that with backcourt stars John Wall and Bradley Beal leading the way, Washington can become a contender. However, Wall is expected to miss all of next season as he recovers from an Achilles tear.

“My belief is that you can you do things fast. We have the wherewithal and resources and facilities and technology,” Leonsis said. “If we can bring John back and, with Brad, develop our draft picks and assets, start to manage the [salary] cap, why can’t this be quick? It doesn’t need to be a five years it took when we drafted John and Brad. We can turn this one faster.”

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Leonsis indicated that new GM Tommy Sheppard and chief planning and operations officer Sashi Brown will have equal say on decisions where their duties overlap, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes. There is going to be much more shared decision-making in the new front office setup. However, Brown said that basketball personnel decisions will ultimately be made by Sheppard (Twitter links).
  • Daniel Medina will also play a major front office role, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt. Medina has been hired as the chief of athlete care and performance for Monumental Basketball. He will focus on medical, training, mental health, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and physical therapy and recovery. “The goal is to create a very collaborative, many-hands-make-light-work level and be prepared for the new NBA where data technology and health and wellness and all of these services merge with what is happening on the court,” Leonsis said.
  • Leonsis now believes having three max players on the roster isn’t conducive to building a successful team, David Aldridge of The Athletic tweets. Leonsis previously felt that having three max stars was the way to go but he now subscribes to the theory that spreading the wealth is a better approach. “Depth is becoming so much more important in this league, just because of the injuries,” he said.

Wizards Won’t Hire New Team President Before Free Agency

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said the team will not fill its vacant team president opening before free agency, as he detailed in a statement to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

“I am very happy with the work and preparation Tommy Sheppard, Coach [Scott] Brooks and our staff have done and I’m confident we’ll execute both the draft and free agency in an expert manner,” Leonsis said in the statement. “Having that confidence has given me the freedom to continue the conversations I’ve been having on how to build a great organization and, as a result, I don’t expect to make any decisions before the start of free agency.”

Leonsis also addressed the reports that the Wizards would try to pry Masai Ujiri from the Raptors, denying that the organization has spoken to – or plans to speak with – Toronto’s president of basketball operations.

“We have not commented on the many rumors surrounding potential candidates during this process, but I wanted to make an exception in this case out of respect to the Raptors organization as they celebrate their well-deserved championship,” Leonsis’s statement said. “Any reports that we have interest in Masai Ujiri as a candidate are simply not true, and we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process.”

The franchise has been without a team president since April 2. Since then, the team has interviewed a handful of executives, including Sheppard and Gersson Rosas, who took the gig with the Wolves. Washington made an offer to Tim Connelly, but the executive chose to remain with the Nuggets as their team president. Danny Ferry and Troy Weaver have also interviewed with the Wizards.

The draft and free agency are the most critical events in an NBA offseason. Leonsis, whose Capitals are a year removed from winning an NHL championship, is comfortable going through them with the infrastructure in place.

I intend to create a leadership team when it feels exactly right and is in alignment with our findings and our final developed specifications,” Leonsis said.

“As I have said, we will likely use ‘many hands make light work’ as a mantra as we seek to establish a new organizational construct that is in line with what future of the NBA will look like: creating a shared platform on health sciences, data analytics, venue management, skills training, etc., for all of our basketball franchises.”

Wizards Preparing Massive Offer For Masai Ujiri

The Wizards will attempt to poach Masai Ujiri from the Raptors to become their head of basketball operations and may be willing to pay upwards of $10MM annually to pry him from Toronto, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports. The Athletic’s Fred Katz and David Aldridge (Twitter link) hear from sources that the offer could be in the six-year, $60MM range.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is expected to reach out to Toronto’s ownership group to request formal permission to speak with Ujiri, Woj writes.

In addition to the massive financial package, Washington may offer Ujiri a lead role in Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the company that oversees the Wizards and the NHL’s Capitals.

The Wizards’ search for a top basketball executive has been on hold since the franchise was unable to come to terms with Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly. The team also interviewed Danny Ferry and Troy Weaver for the position, but interim GM Tommy Sheppard has been running the show since Ernie Grunfeld was let go.

After overseeing a perennial 50-win team in Denver, Ujiri moved on to Toronto in 2013, where he played a significant role in building this season’s championship roster. Ujiri made major moves for Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Marc Gasol, while also acquiring under-the-radar contributors like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Wall, White, Draft

Retaining Bradley Beal in his prime, rather than trading him for assets, might be the best course of action for the Wizards, Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington argues. Beal could be the ideal role model to establish a new identity and culture for the franchise, Standig continues. Beal could be the main locker room leader next season with John Wall recovering from his Achilles injury and he’d embrace that role, Standig notes. Giving Beal that power might deepen his connection to the franchise’s long-term success, Standig adds.

We have more on the Wizards:

  • With Wall’s super-max extension kicking in, owner Ted Leonsis wants his star point guard to take all the time necessary to make sure he’s fully ready when he starts playing again, as Leonsis expressed in an NBC Sports podcast and relayed by Chase Hughes“John understands his commitment will show from this rehab,” Leonsis said. “If it takes the whole season, we don’t care. We are not putting pressure on you on a time. Make sure that you are rehabilitating in the right way so that when you do come back, you don’t have that little voice in your head [saying], ‘Did I do everything the right way to be able to come back and be a great, great player?'”
  • North Carolina shooting guard Coby White and Kentucky small forward Keldon Johnson are among the prospects the Wizards are bringing in for workouts, Hughes reports in post written by NBC Sports Washington’s Josh Luckenbaugh. White is currently ranked No. 8 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and the Wizards have the ninth pick. Johnson is ranked at No. 19. The Wizards will also soon bring in Georgetown’s Trey Mourning, Duke’s Marques Bolden and Temple’s Shizz Alston Jr.
  • Unless the franchise promotes interim president Tommy Sheppard and ends its long search for a new front office leader to replace Ernie Grunfeld, it’s unknown who will determine Washington’s draft decisions this month, Hughes writes in a separate story.

Wizards Notes: Grunfeld, Leonsis, GM Search

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said he alone made the call to relieve Ernie Grunfeld of his duties. “No one made this decision other than me,” Leonsis said (Twitter links via Candace Buckner of the Washington Post).

“My main goal is to right now as fast as I can bring in an outside firm to provide some services for us,” Leonsis said. “I want to do what’s called ‘best practicing.’ What do the best organizations look like? What do they spend?

“Maybe I made the mistake in the way we spent and invested out money. I have to be open-minded.”

Leonsis does not believe the organization will have issues attracting a top candidate for the GM gig, a sentiment echoed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Resources and geography are among the reasons to expect the position to be highly sought after.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Tommy Sheppard, the team’s interim GM, is a strong candidate for the position, per Leonsis. Sheppard is the senior vice president of basketball operations and has been with the organization for 14 years.
  • Leonsis called both Bradley Beal and John Wall shortly after making the move to notify them of the change, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports tweets.
  • Scott Brooks’ job status will be determined after a general manager is hired, Leonsis added (via Hughes in a separate tweet). The new GM won’t be restricted in terms of the direction the franchise goes in, as Leonsis is open to all ideas.
  • Hughes (in a full-length piece) identifies 10 possible candidates for the GM position, including Sheppard and former Cavs GM David Griffin. Hughes also speculated that Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton, who was with the Wizards from 2003 until 2013, could be a candidate for the position.