Wizards Rumors

Wizards’ Coaching Search Will Be ‘Diverse, Robust’

With Scott Brooks officially out as the Wizards’ head coach, his replacement won’t be named quickly. GM Tommy Sheppard said he will conduct a “very diverse, very robust” search, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. Sheppard also used the words “thorough” and “inclusive” to describe the search, which suggests that he might give serious consideration to a woman candidate.

We have more interesting tidbits from Sheppard’s press conference on Wednesday:

  • Sheppard said he opted to part ways with Brooks and then informed team chairman Ted Leonsis of his plan. Leonsis gave a rubber stamp of approval, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. “‘If that’s what you want to do, then that’s what you’ll do,'” Leonsis told Sheppard.
  • The ability to communicate well with the players will be high on the list of traits Sheppard is seeking for his next coach, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Sheppard doesn’t want the next coach to take on too much responsibility — he’ll seek one that’s willing to have offensive and defensive “coordinators” on this staff.
  • Sheppard will be seeking more depth and veteran leadership in free agency and trades this offseason, Youngmisuk relays in a separate tweet. He isn’t worried about finding plenty of worthy candidates for the head coaching job on a team that make the playoffs this season, adding that “D.C. will sell itself.”

Nuggets’ Unseld Drawing Interest From Magic, Wizards

The Magic have requested permission to interview Nuggets associate head coach Wes Unseld Jr. for their head coaching vacancy, reports Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link).

While Singer doesn’t clarify whether Denver granted Orlando permission, there’s no reason to believe the Nuggets wouldn’t do so. When Unseld received a promotion last December, head coach Michael Malone said in a statement that his top assistant was “ready and deserving of a head coaching position in the NBA,” adding that it would only be a matter of time before that opportunity came.

Unseld is also expected to be in the mix for the Wizards‘ newly-opened head coaching job, a league source tells Singer (Twitter link).

Unseld has previously worked as an assistant coach for both the Wizards (2005-11) and Magic (2012-15), so he’s already familiar with both franchises.

It’s worth noting that his father, Hall-of-Famer Wes Unseld Sr., was a D.C. icon. The elder Unseld earned five All-Star nods and an MVP award in Baltimore and Washington for the then-Bullets, then coached the team and later held a front office role. However, it remains to be seen whether that history would make his son more inclined to pursue the Wizards’ job over an opportunity with the Magic or another team.

Scott Brooks Won’t Return As Wizards’ Head Coach

12:55pm: The Wizards have officially announced in a press release that they won’t extend Brooks’ contract and that they’ll immediately begin the search for a new head coach.

“We have been committed to taking the proper steps over the last two seasons to develop our young players, bring in pieces to complement Bradley Beal and build a winning environment that will ultimately lead to sustained on-court success,” general manager Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “Our organization will always be grateful to Scott for his dedication and work both on the court and in the community over the past five years and I personally admire and respect how he helped keep our team together during the unprecedented events of the last 15 months.”

10:29am: The Wizards and Scott Brooks couldn’t reach an agreement on a new contract for the veteran head coach and have agreed to part ways, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Brooks’ deal with Washington expired at the end of the 2020/21 season.

Brooks, formerly the coach of the Thunder, joined Washington ahead of the 2016/17 campaign and led the team to a 49-33 regular season record in his first season. That team came within one game of earning a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, but Brooks’ squads took a step backward in subsequent years, compiling a 134-174 record (.435) over the next four seasons.

Halfway through this season, it seemed Brooks might become the first coach fired in 2021, perhaps even before the regular season ended. The Wizards had a 17-32 record and looked dead in the water, far removed from the playoff picture. However, a second-half surge saw the Wizards finish the season on a 17-6 run, earning them a play-in spot, which they parlayed into a playoff berth.

The late-season run – along with endorsements from Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal – helped convince the Wizards to seriously consider extending their relationship with Brooks — both Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) suggest ownership was discussing the possibility of a new deal. However, the two sides weren’t able to agree to terms and the club will now be in the market for a new head coach.

The Wizards are the sixth team to launch a head coaching search this offseason, joining the Celtics, Pacers, Magic, Trail Blazers, and Pelicans. Now a free agent, Brooks could emerge as a candidate for one of those other jobs, though there has been no reporting linking him to any of them yet.

As for Brooks’ replacement in D.C., no frontrunners have been identified so far, but it seems like a safe bet that Westbrook and especially Beal will have a voice in the club’s hiring process.

NBA Announces 2020/2021 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2020/21 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way as the lone unanimous selection for the First Team.

Antetokounmpo and Nuggets‘ MVP Nikola Jokic were the two top vote-getters, combining for 998 out of a possible 1,000 points, with Warriors guard Stephen Curry following shortly behind. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounding out the top five.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Giannis scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Among the players who just missed the cut were Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (69), Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (44), Nets guard James Harden (41), Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (37) and Heat center Bam Adebayo (32). A total of 12 other players received votes. The full results can be found here.

Today’s announcement has major financial implications across the league. Tatum, who received more votes than Kyrie Irving but still fell 20 votes short of a final forward spot, will lose out on a projected $32.6MM on his rookie scale extension, as his next deal will start at 25% of the cap instead of the 30% he would have received if he’d been named to an All-NBA team. Likewise, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Adebayo will all receive starting salaries worth 25% of the cap on their respective extensions as a result of missing out on All-NBA honors.

Doncic, having been named to his second consecutive All-NBA First Team, will be eligible for a 30% extension that would be worth a projected $201MM+ and is almost certain to be offered this summer. Doncic has previously made clear his intentions to sign the extension when offered. It will go into effect for the 2022/23 season.

Embiid is now eligible for a super-max contract extension, which would run for four years, starting in 2023/24, and would be worth a projected $191MM, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It’s unclear whether the Sixers will immediately put this extension on the table this offseason.

Bradley Beal‘s deal will not change with his first career All-NBA selection, as he is already eligible for a 35% contract extension on his next deal. Jokic, having been named MVP previously this week, also sees no change in his possible future super-max extension, which will be worth approximately $241MM.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our poll. Devin Booker, Adebayo, and Tatum were your picks who didn’t make the official list.

Wizards Expected To Try To Extend Beal

It is anticipated that the Wizards will attempt to negotiate a new contract extension with All-Star guard Bradley Beal this offseason, a source tells Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Beal previously signed a two-year extension, worth nearly $72MM, in 2019 — it will take effect during the 2021/22 season.

As Hughes writes, should the two parties opt to get a deal done this season, the maximum value of such an agreement would be a projected $181.5MM over four years. If Beal decides to wait until the 2022 offseason, turning down his $36.4MM player option for ’22/23 and becoming a free agent, he could sign a new five-year contract with the Wizards worth a projected $235MM.

The heftier package would be available as a result of Beal having reached his 10th season of NBA play, and thus qualifying for a higher maximum salary. If he were to change teams at that point, he’d be eligible for a four-year deal worth a projected $174MM.

Beal enjoyed a stellar season in 2020/21, helping the Wizards return to their first playoffs since 2018. Across 60 regular season games, Beal averaged 31.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 4.4 APG, while sporting a shooting line of .485/.349/.889.

Beal and his similarly expensive new backcourt mate Russell Westbrook guided the Wizards to a 34-38 record in the East, and qualified for the playoffs by winning one of their two play-in games. Washington would go on to fall 4-1 to the top-seeded Sixers in the first round.

Community Shootaround: Scott Brooks’ Future

Four NBA teams are currently on the lookout for new head coaches, while most other clubs whose seasons have ended will stick with their current leaders. However, one team has notably yet to make a call on its head coach — Scott Brooks‘ doesn’t have a contract with the Wizards for the 2021/22 season, and Washington has yet to finalize a decision on whether or not he’ll be back.

Halfway through the 2020/21 season, Brooks looked like he might be the first coach to be let go, either right after the All-Star break or when the regular season ended. The Wizards had a 17-32 record and looked dead in the water, far removed from the playoff picture.

However, a second-half surge saw the Wizards finish the season on a 17-6 run, earning them a play-in spot, which they parlayed into a playoff berth. Washington didn’t last long in the postseason, falling to Philadelphia in five games in the first round. But the late-season hot streak complicated the team’s decision on Brooks, who probably couldn’t realistically have been expected to lead the squad any further, given its lack of top-tier talent outside the backcourt combo of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook.

Those two star guards both endorsed Brooks in their end-of-season sessions with the media. Westbrook, who also played for Brooks in Oklahoma City, was particularly effusive in his praise of the veteran coach.

“If it was up to me, Scotty wouldn’t be going anywhere. It’s not even a question or a conversation to even be brought up,” Westbrook told reporters last week. “If the conversation is brought to me, I will definitely voice my opinion like I’m voicing it now and see what happens.”

Westbrook’s support of Brooks – as well as Beal’s – could play a significant role in the Wizards’ decision, according to Quinton Mayo, who suggests there has been momentum toward the two sides working out a new deal. If Brooks does return, Mayo says, it would be contingent on him overhauling his coaching staff.

Still, the Wizards haven’t officially made their decision yet, so before they do, we want to know what you think. Should – and will – they bring back Brooks? If they don’t, which coaching candidate(s) should they target? And, in that scenario, would Brooks be a good fit for another team’s head coaching vacancy?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on the Wizards and Brooks!

Wizards Notes: Offseason, Trade Market, Beal

The Wizards will soon have to make a decision on the fate of head coach Scott Brooks, and if the team opts not to sign him to a new contract, a head coaching search will be the top priority to begin the offseason. However, there are plenty of other items on Washington’s summer checklist, as Ava Wallace of The Washington Post and Fred Katz of The Athletic detail in a pair of stories.

As Wallace writes, general manager Tommy Sheppard has said he’s not looking to make “wholesale changes” to the Wizards’ roster, but he’ll face decisions on several free-agents-to-be, including Robin Lopez, Ish Smith, Raul Neto, and Garrison Mathews. Additionally, upgrading the team’s defense and depth will be a key goal.

While the mid-level exception could net the Wizards a solid rotation player in free agency, Sheppard may need to return to the trade market to meaningfully upgrade the roster, says Katz. Making a clever trade to improve the team is easier said than done, Katz acknowledges, but Sheppard has a decent track record in that area over the last couple years, as trades for Davis Bertans, Russell Westbrook, and Daniel Gafford have turned out relatively well.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Bradley Beal has been a frequent subject of trade speculation over the last year or two, but the Wizards still have no plans to move him, and Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington wonders if the team could actually go in the opposite direction, pursuing an impact player on the trade market to complement Beal. As Hughes observes, Washington isn’t exactly loaded with valuable trade assets, but does have some young players and moveable contracts. The Wizards could also theoretically make draft picks available, though the multiyear protections on their traded 2023 first-rounder would complicate matters.
  • Beal said at season’s end that he plans to be involved in recruiting free agents this offseason. In a separate story for NBC Sports Washington, Hughes explores what Beal’s pitch to those players might look like.
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Fred Katz answers questions about the Wizards’ possible draft targets, Beal’s contract situation, and whether Kristaps Porzingis makes sense as a trade target.

2021 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker

With another regular season in the books, a handful of teams around the NBA are making head coaching changes in advance of the 2021/22 campaign.

In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the summer, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.

You’ll be able to access this page anytime under the “Hoops Rumors Features” menu on the right sidebar on our desktop site, or on the “Features” page in our mobile menu.

Updated 6-16-21 (4:01pm CT)

Active Searches:

Boston Celtics

  • Previous coach:
  • Interviewed/expected to interview:
    • Celtics assistant Jerome Allen (story)
    • Celtics assistant Scott Morrison (story)
    • Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga (story)
    • Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla (story)
    • Nets assistant Ime Udoka (story)
    • Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups (story)
    • Bucks assistant Darvin Ham (story)
    • Bucks assistant Charles Lee (story)
    • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley (story)
  • Other rumored candidates/targets:
    • Lakers assistant Jason Kidd (story)
    • Former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce (story)
    • Sixers assistant Sam Cassell (story)
    • Duke women’s coach Kara Lawson (story)
    • Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni (story)

Despite a disappointing season in Boston, Stevens wasn’t expected to be in any danger of losing his job this spring. And technically, he didn’t lose his job — he actually received a promotion, as he’ll be the Celtics’ new president of basketball operations.

Semantics aside, the Celtics are in the market for a new head coach, with Stevens leading the search for a replacement. It sounds like they’ll cast a wide-ranging net, starting with in-house candidates.

Indiana Pacers

  • Previous coach:
  • Interviewed/expected to interview:
    • TBD
  • Other rumored candidates/targets:
    • Former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts (story)
    • Former Magic coach Steve Clifford (story)
    • G League Ignite coach Brian Shaw (story)
    • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer (story)

Bjorkgren lost his job as the Pacers’ head coach after just a year, reportedly due in large part to poor communication issues and a tendency to micro-manage. Indiana is said to be seeking a more experienced, established head coach to replace a first-timer who didn’t work out.

New Orleans Pelicans

  • Previous coach:
  • Interviewed/expected to interview:
    • TBD
  • Other rumored candidates/targets:
    • Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon (story)
    • Pelicans assistant Fred Vinson (story)
    • Bucks assistant Charles Lee (story)
    • Lakers assistant Jason Kidd (story)
    • Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn (story)
    • Nets assistant Ime Udoka (story)

Van Gundy failed to connect with the young players on the Pelicans’ roster and failed to make good on his goal of improving the team’s defense, resulting in a short-lived stint as the head coach. New Orleans will make every effort to hit a home run on its next coaching hire to avoid subjecting its young stars to more turnover. Van Gundy’s replacement will be Zion Williamson‘s third head coach in three years.

Orlando Magic

  • Previous coach:
  • Interviewed/expected to interview:
    • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon (story)
    • Nuggets associate head coach Wes Unseld Jr. (story)
  • Other rumored candidates/targets:
    • Former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts (story)
    • Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni (story)
    • Nets assistant Ime Udoka (story)
    • Clippers assistant Kenny Atkinson (story)
    • Clippers assistant Dan Craig (story)
    • Bucks assistant Darvin Ham (story)
    • Lakers assistant Jason Kidd (story)
    • Former Warriors assistant Jarron Collins (story)
    • Sixers assistant Sam Cassell (story)

The Magic and Clifford reportedly discussed a contract extension before going their separate ways. However, Clifford apparently wasn’t ready to sign up for a protracted rebuilding process. Orlando figures to shift its focus to a coach with a strong track record of player development who is willing to be patient with a young roster.

Portland Trail Blazers

  • Previous coach:
  • Interviewed/expected to interview:
    • Celtics assistant Jerome Allen (story)
    • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon (story)
    • Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni (story)
    • Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups (story)
  • Other rumored candidates/targets:
    • Michigan coach Juwan Howard (story)
    • Former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy (story)
    • Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry (story)
    • South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley (story)
  • Withdrawn from consideration:
    • Lakers assistant Jason Kidd (story)

Long rumored to be on the hot seat if Portland didn’t make a deep playoff run this spring, Stotts was let go by the Blazers shortly after the team was knocked out of the postseason by Denver.

Initial reports stated that Damian Lillard‘s input would play a major part in the Blazers’ coaching hire, and the All-Star guard expressed public support for Kidd and Billups. However, Kidd subsequently withdrew his name from consideration, reportedly uncomfortable with the idea of pursuing the job following Lillard’s public endorsement. That may leave Billups as a frontrunner.

Washington Wizards

  • Previous coach:
  • Interviewed/expected to interview:
    • TBD
  • Other rumored candidates/targets:
    • Nuggets associate head coach Wes Unseld Jr. (story)

The 2020/21 season was the final one in Brooks’ contract, so unlike most of the other coaches on this list, he wasn’t technically dismissed — he and the Wizards just ended up not negotiating a new contract. Washington will now be in the market for a new head coach, and it seems safe to assume star guards Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal will have a voice in the hiring process.

Situations To Monitor:

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Current coach: Mike Budenholzer
  • No coach has had a better regular season record over the last three years than Budenholzer, who had led the Bucks to a 162-65 (.714) mark since the start of the 2018/19 season. But the club fell short of its postseason expectations in 2019 and 2020. If it happens again this year, there’s a sense that Budenholzer’s job will be in jeopardy, with some potential candidates already being identified.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Bridges, Heat, Hall

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard won’t be afraid to take “big swings” to improve his roster this offseason if the opportunities present themselves, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes.

The Wizards dealt with several COVID-19 and injury-related issues this season, finishing with just a 34-38 record. The team was eliminated by the Sixers in a five-game series after making it out of the play-in tournament.

“We’ve gotta continue to add talent everywhere we can, and I think we’ve shown that I’m not afraid to take big swings,” Sheppard said. “We’re not afraid to go out and acquire players in trades, to do whatever it takes.”

Prior to the season, Washington dealt John Wall and a future first-round pick to the Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook, a prime example of a big-swing move.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Hornets forward Miles Bridges emerged as a well-rounded threat for the team this season, Sam Perley of NBA.com writes. Bridges averaged 12.7 points and a career-high six rebounds per game, serving as a key cog in the club’s rotation. “I feel like I can always get better at everything,” Bridges said during his exit interview, as relayed by Perley. “For this team, I play a lot of positions, a lot of different roles. I want to get better at everything – my IQ mainly. Learn how to finish games better, creating shots for myself and my teammates. I can always get better at defense, so for me, it’s just the full package.” Bridges will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • The Heat‘s early playoff exit will allow the team to spend more time reflecting on the season and planning for the summer, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Team president Pat Riley — much like Tommy Sheppard — has never been afraid to take big swings to improve his team, something worth monitoring this offseason.
  • While Donta Hall provided relentless energy as a depth piece during his time with the Magic, he’s not under contract for 2021/22 and it remains to be seen whether he’ll have a place in the team’s future, notes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Eastern Conference

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs in full swing, we take a look at players from the Eastern Conference:

Elfrid Payton, Knicks, 27, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $4.77MM deal in 2020

Payton’s postseason role was reduced to something rarely seen in any sport – the starting lineup cameo. He played a few ineffective minutes, then never returned to the court for two games until coach Tom Thibodeau completely gave up on him. Payton started regularly all season but his post-All-Star break woes drove Knicks fans nuts. They won’t have to worry about a repeat – Payton will be an unrestricted free agent. Payton has been a starter throughout his career but it’s hard to imagine him getting much more than the veteran’s minimum to fill out someone’s bench next season.

Evan Fournier, Celtics, 28, SF (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2016

Fournier was the biggest acquisition the Celtics made at the trade deadline and they leaned on him heavily against the Nets with Jaylen Brown sidelined. Fournier averaged 15.4 PPG on 43.3% shooting from 3-point range in 33.4 MPG. Solid numbers, but he’s not the type of player who can carry a team. Fournier is expected to seek a contract similar to the one he signed with the Magic five seasons ago but is he really a $17MM a year player? There’s a general sense that Fournier may have to settle for the mid-level exception or something slightly above that figure.

Duncan Robinson, Heat, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3MM deal in 2018

Robinson pumped in 24 points in Game 1 against the Bucks, then petered out the rest of the series. That won’t hurt him in restricted free agency. The Heat have to make a lot of tough decisions this offseason – one of them will be how big an offer sheet they’d be willing to match to retain Robinson. First, they’ll have to extend a $4.7MM qualifying offer but that’s a formality. During last season’s playoff run to the Finals, Robinson averaged 11.7 PPG. He’s a career 42.3% 3-point shooter and he’ll be looking for a big payday after playing on a rookie contract.

Alex Len, Wizards, 27, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.7MM deal in 2020

Len has passed through a handful of organizations over the past four seasons. He’ll be on the move again as an unrestricted free agent. Len received 40 regular-season starts from the injury-depleted Wizards after getting waived by the Raptors. His playing time shrunk throughout the first-round series against Philadelphia – he played a grand total of three minutes in the last two games. Whether or not Thomas Bryant can effectively return from his knee injury next season, Washington needs to upgrade its frontcourt. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Ukranian-born Len explores European options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.