Tommy Sheppard

Bradley Beal Discusses New Contract Extension

Bradley Beal‘s decision to sign a two-year contract extension with the Wizards on Thursday surprised many NBA observers, since Beal could have potentially signed a more lucrative contract in a year or simply chose not to extend his stay with his rebuilding franchise. Speaking to reporters, including David Aldridge of The Athletic, the All-Star shooting guard explained why he opted to sign the new deal, which will lock him up through at least the 2021/22 season.

“I guess legacy at the end of the day,” Beal said. “This is where I’ve been for the last seven years, going on eight. I have an opportunity to be able to turn this thing around. A lot of people doubt that. I view it as a challenge. I view it as something that I feel a lot of D.C. sports have been a part of, rebuilding something and kind of building them into championship-caliber teams. Why not me? Why kind of sell myself short of a great opportunity that I have in my hands right now?”

While the extension is a big win for the Wizards and new general manager Tommy Sheppard, it’s worth noting that Beal only tacked on one guaranteed season to his current deal, so his commitment to the organization isn’t as long-term as it could have been.

One person with knowledge of Beal’s thinking tells Aldridge that the 26-year-old is “giving [Sheppard] a chance now that he’s in charge.” If the Wizards don’t show real progress in the next year or two, it’s still possible that Beal will have second thoughts about whether he wants to remain in D.C. long-term.

Here’s more on Beal’s new deal:

  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington hears that Sheppard and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, along with other Wizards executives, flew to Chicago last month to meet with Beal and agent Mark Bartelstein. Beal had the opportunity at that meeting to ask questions about the franchise’s direction. “I just felt comfortable with where we were going,” Beal said. “I talked to Ted and they kind of projected the future and gave me the layout of what we can do in the future.”
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic explores how Beal’s extension affects the Wizards’ rebuilding process, noting that having the two-time All-Star under contract for at least the next three years gives the team some extra security to be patient with its roster moves.
  • Ben Golliver of The Washington Post digs into what the extension means to Sheppard, a first-time general manager who was placed in a tough situation.
  • The Heat were known to be one team that would have serious interest in Beal if the Wizards changed course and decided to trade him, but that will no longer be an option for Miami, at least during the 2019/20 season, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.

Southeast Notes: Rozier, Sheppard, Spoelstra, Wizards

New Hornets guard Terry Rozier is eager to prove himself after changing teams this past summer in free agency, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes.

Rozier, 25, left the Celtics after spending four seasons on the team, opting to sign a three-year, $58MM contract with the Hornets organization.

“I’m pissed off about a lot of stuff,” Rozier said. “I want to prove myself again.”

The Hornets lost All-Star guard Kemba Walker to Boston on a four-year pact during free agency, and they’re widely projected to be one of the league’s most underwhelming teams this season.

For Rozier, joining the Hornets — a team that had immediate interest in him — offers the ability to receive a clear starting role at point guard. The topic was briefly discussed with team owner Michael Jordan, who expressed his desire to add Rozier on a new deal.

“He didn’t have to show me too much. Him being Michael Jordan was 80 to 90 percent of it,” Rozier recalled. “He believes in me. He wanted to give me the opportunity to show my talent at the highest level. How can you turn that down?”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard will be more focused on player development than win totals this season, Howard Fendrich of The Associated Press writes. Washington drafted impressive forward Rui Hachimura with the No. 9 pick in the draft and could play the entire season without All-Star John Wall due to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.
  • The contract extension between Erik Spoelstra and the Heat may have been finalized, but there remains plenty of work ahead for Spoelstra with the organization, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Spoelstra is the second longest-tenured head coach in the NBA (2008), trailing behind only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (1996).
  • Candace Buckner of the Washington Post examines three questions for the Wizards entering the 2019/20 season. Washington has several important factors to discuss this season, including a potential extension with Bradley Beal, whether Hachimura should start and Wall’s progress from injury rehab.

Wizards Notes: Sheppard, Wall, Roster, Brooks

New GM Tommy Sheppard indicated in a press conference this week that the Wizards will be giving a lot more minutes to younger players this year, relays Fred Katz of The Athletic. Sheppard stated that the organization wants to have each rookie play at least 1,500 minutes between the NBA and the G League. That represents a significant change from last season, when Bradley Beal led the league in minutes played and coach Scott Brooks relied heavily on his veterans.

Washington has a pair of rookies with guaranteed contracts in Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield, so they should see plenty of time with the Wizards. Garrison Mathews, who has a two-way deal, and Justin Robinson, who wasn’t drafted but has a chance to make the final roster, could both wind up at Capital City. Troy Brown, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones, all second-year players who didn’t see much time last season, may spend time there as well.

“We gotta show them why and how it’s good for them,” Sheppard said about selling the approach to veterans. “But I think they’re active participants in it, and I think everybody appreciates that we’re trying to prolong careers. You make a bad decision on a player — they go out, and they pop a hamstring, or something happens which could’ve been avoided because of fatigue factor we didn’t recognize — that’s on us.”

There’s more from D.C., all courtesy of Katz:

  • John Wall is serving as a virtual assistant coach while he waits to return from a ruptured Achilles that may sideline him for the entire season. Sheppard said Wall is helping to teach the younger players, and the team won’t pressure him to try to return. “We’re not waiting on a calendar. There’s not a clock when he comes back,” he said. “He comes back when he’s 100 percent.”
  • The Wizards have 13 players with guaranteed contracts and may opt to go with a 14-player roster rather than the maximum of 15. “If you have 15 players and one gets hurt, (using a two-way player) is the only way you can plug it,” Sheppard said. “You have 14 players; you can sign somebody and bring them in that’s not in the G League. It gives you optionality … My vision, putting rosters together, it doesn’t make a lot of sense not to hold back a roster spot for the competition, for the inevitable injury, something.” Jordan McRae, who has a $400K guarantee, is considered likely to earn a roster spot, according to Katz, but injuries to Wall and Isaiah Thomas increase the need for another point guard.
  • Brooks, who is entering the fourth year of his five-year contract, will be judged on building a positive culture rather than wins and losses, Sheppard 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 Officially Announce Front Office Changes

The Wizards have officially named Tommy Sheppard their general manager, confirming the decision today in a press release. A Friday report had indicated that Sheppard – who held the position on an interim basis since April – would get the job on a permanent basis.

Washington’s press release includes announcements on other changes to the team’s front office. Most notably, Sashi Brown will serve as the chief planning and operations officer for Monumental Basketball, according to the franchise. Brown is a former NFL executive who worked in the Cleveland Browns’ front office for two years from 2016-17.

The Wizards also announced that Daniel Medina – previously the VP of athlete care for the Sixers – will be the organization’s chief of athlete care and performance, while former Georgetown and Princeton head coach John Thompson III will lead a new athlete development and engagement department.

“We have formed a new leadership team with a forward-thinking structure to adapt to the ‘new NBA’ that requires every possible strategic advantage to compete and win,” Wizards team owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement. “We are building a leadership brain trust with deep Wizards/NBA experience and with sports professionals from inside and outside the NBA to challenge our thinking and adapt to an ever-increasing competitive environment.”

While Brown and Medina will play major roles in overseeing programs and services for all Monumental Basketball franchises – including the Washington Mystics (WNBA) and Capital City Go-Go (G League), it will be Sheppard who remains in charge of the basketball operations department for the Wizards.

According to the team’s release, Sheppard will lead strategy, analytics, player personnel, scouting, and coaching for the Wizards and Go-Go.

Wizards Notes: Sheppard, Scouting, Beal, Longabardi

The Wizards gave Tommy Sheppard a “trial run” through the draft and free agency before deciding to promote him to general manager, a source tells Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards have reportedly settled on Sheppard to run the team, more than three months after Ernie Grunfeld was dismissed in early April. That came after a failed attempt to pry Tim Connelly away from the Nuggets and a reported effort to entice the RaptorsMasai Ujiri.

Sheppard took steps this summer to clear up a disastrous cap situation. He allowed Tomas Satoransky, Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker to leave in free agency, even though he was instrumental in bringing all three to Washington. He also traded Dwight Howard to the Grizzlies.

Sheppard prepared written proposals for the ownership group, outlining his plans for a younger, cheaper and more energetic roster. He spearheaded an organizational effort to expand the team’s international presence by drafting Rui Hachimura and making trades that brought in Davis Bertans, Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga. Owner Ted Leonsis was reportedly impressed with how easily the team was able to re-sign Thomas Bryant, one of his favorite players.

There’s more tonight from Washington, D.C.:

  • Sheppard’s official move to GM is expected to be announced this week, along with significant changes in how the organization operates, Hughes adds in the same story. The Wizards plan to triple their investment in their analytics department and will expand scouting with a fresh emphasis on African and Latin American nations.
  • There are “a long list of clues” that Bradley Beal will turn down a three-year, $111MM extension when he becomes eligible on July 26, Hughes continues. Beal’s reasons may be as simple as holding out for a better deal, and he could put himself in position for a super-max offer by earning All-NBA honors during the upcoming season. Regardless, it appears to be the first major test for Sheppard once he’s officially in his new position.
  • The Wizards added to their coaching staff by hiring Michael Longabardi away from the Cavaliers, Hughes tweets. A defensive specialist, the 46-year-old has been part of two title-winning teams.

Wizards Close To Naming Tommy Sheppard As GM

The Wizards will promote interim general manager Tommy Sheppard to the position on a permanent basis, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets.

The contract details are still being worked out, but an official announcement could come within the next week, Katz adds. The news is affirmed by The Washington Post’s Candace Buckner.

The hiring of Sheppard, 50, would end a long and strange journey since the team fired longtime GM Ernie Grunfeld just before the end of the regular season. Sheppard has been in charge since April 2.

During the search, the Wizards reportedly made at a run at Raptors top executive Masai Ujiri, though owner Ted Leonsis later denied that he asked permission to speak with Ujiri. Washington also made an offer to Tim Connelly, but the executive chose to remain with the Nuggets as their team president.

The team also interviewed Gersson Rosas, who is now running the Timberwolves, along with Danny Ferry and Troy Weaver.

Southeast Notes: Hachimura, Petrucelli, McDaniels, Wizards

Regardless of how well Wizards newly-drafted rookie forward Rui Hachimura performs in the NBA moving forward, he’s already a superstar in his home country of Japan, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

Hachimura, the first ever Japanese-born lottery pick in the NBA, has a rabid following that was on display Friday when the 21-year-old Gonzaga product was introduced by the Wizards. Per Hughes, there were over 40 members of the Japanese media in attendance from over 20 outlets, all excited for the opportunity to be a part of Hachimura’s press conference.

“I’m used to it. This is kind of small,” Hachimura joked about the media attention at the Wizards’ press conference. “When I was in Japan, there were couple of press conferences like this and there were more people.”

Because of his unique situation, Hachimura has the chance to be the most marketable player on the Wizards as a rookie, John Wall and Bradley Beal included. He already has endorsement deals with Air Jordan and Nissin Food Products, and one Japanese reporter even went as far as opining that Hachimura could be as big as MLB star Ichiro Suzuki one day. The Wizards certainly hope so.

There’s more from the Southeast Division this afternoon:

  • JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors is reporting that free agent sharpshooter John Petrucelli has committed to play summer league with the Magic. Petrucelli, 26, signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Magic in October, before being waived two days later.
  • In some negative news coming out of Charlotte, Brendan Marks and Michael Gordon of The Charlotte Observer are reporting that Hornets second-round draft pick Jalen McDaniels was sued by two female high school classmates around six months ago. Criminal charges were not pursued, but the duo claim in a civil suit that McDaniels recorded them performing sexual acts without their consent.
  • Columnist Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post opines that the Wizards will likely end up promoting from within and hire interim head of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard as Ernie Grunfeld‘s replacement.

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.