Wizards Rumors

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 or will plan to speak with the executive.

“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, though the executive chose to remain with the Nuggets as their team president.

The draft and free agency are the most critical events in an NBA offseason. Leonsis, who’s 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.”

Pelicans Have Shown Interest In Bradley Beal

Before reaching an agreement on Saturday to send Anthony Davis to the Lakers, the Pelicans showed “sincere interest” in Wizards guard Bradley Beal, according to Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington. Sources tell Standig that New Orleans remains interested in Beal and that the two teams “broadly” discussed a trade scenario involving the All-Star guard.

Despite the interest from the Pelicans and other contenders, the sense from league sources is that the Wizards still plan on keeping Beal, says Standig. The discussions between Washington and New Orleans “never veered close to actual negotiations,” a source tells NBC Sports Washington.

While the package the Pelicans secured from the Lakers in exchange for Davis is heavy on young players and future draft picks, there have been plenty of rumors suggesting that New Orleans would be interested in flipping this year’s No. 4 pick or other assets for a veteran.

Beal would be a best-case scenario for the Pels, but the Wizards have resisted the idea of trading the standout guard, despite the fact that he’ll be without his backcourt mate John Wall (torn Achilles) for most or all of the 2019/20 season. Washington has yet to name a permanent head of basketball operations, but Tommy Sheppard is running the front office on an interim basis and it appears that he and owner Ted Leonsis are averse to moving the club’s most valuable player.

This is the second time this week that we’ve heard of the Pelicans’ potential interest in Beal, as Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that league executives believed New Orleans was monitoring the Wizards guard.

Wizards Notes: White, Little, Sanon, Draft

The Wizards‘ workout with Coby White and Nassir Little drew a larger than normal crowd with owner Ted Leonsis and star Bradley Beal among the observers. Little said that more team representatives were present for his workout in Washington than in any of his other pre-draft workouts.

“The building is pretty full right now,” Little told Hoops Rumors and the other media in attendance. “It shows how interested they are in me and Coby, so that’s been pretty great.”

While the large turnout may lead to speculation about their interest in White and Little, there’s still no sense of what direction the Wizards will go in with the No. 9 overall pick. Interim GM Tommy Shepard is running the show for Washington and the front office will use the next couple days to further evaluate the pool of talented prospects.

Team officials had dinner with White on Sunday night and Washington clearly has interest in the North Carolina native. However, White may not be available by the time the Wizards are on the clock. Despite the projections, White doesn’t see the workout as a waste of time.

“I’m blessed to be here,” White said. “I love it. My sister lives not too far. It’s a great town. Blessed to be here and blessed that they gave me the opportunity to come in and work out for them.”

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Issuf Sanon, the team’s 2018 second-round draft-and-stash prospect, participated in drills during the workout with the North Carolina duo. No word yet on whether the Wizards will bring the 19-year-old guard over from the Slovenian League, though I’d speculate that the team keeps him abroad for at least one more season.
  • The workout with White and Little will be the Wizards’ final session before the draft barring any last-second scheduling.
  • Little made his pitch to be selected with the No. 9 overall pick. “Their roster is pretty short on wings. They have Bradley Beal and Troy Brown but in regards to the 3-spot, I think they have a real need right there and I think I can fill that with my ability to play defense and score,” Little told Hoops Rumors and other media in attendance.
  • The Wizards were the final workout for White. Little also has no more workouts scheduled, something that may return a sense of normalcy to the prospect’s life. “Throughout this process, you’re in a different city every other night. You don’t really have a home,” Little said. “…going to the draft, you have a sense of security… like you belong somewhere, so it’s really a relief.”

Latest From Charania: Davis, Beal, Irving, Conley, Suns

The Knicks discussed a trade package for Anthony Davis that included Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith, Thursday’s No. 3 overall pick and other draft compensation, but they never fully offered forward Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. The Pelicans weren’t particularly high on either Knox or Robinson anyway but the Knicks were reluctant to jeopardize their future flexibility because they weren’t convinced Davis would re-sign with them.

Contrary to other reports, the Celtics were open to discussing Jayson Tatum and the future first-rounder owed by the Grizzlies in a trade package for Davis but didn’t want to part with both of those assets, Charania continues. Boston’s unwillingness to give up multiple major assets tipped the scale in the Lakers’ favor. The Nets also made a bid, Charania adds, but the Pelicans weren’t enamored with their available assets, especially since the Nets couldn’t include restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell.

Here are more highlights from Charania:

  • The Rockets were willing to get involved in three-team scenarios in Davis trade talks with Clint Capela being dangled.
  • The Pelicans are monitoring the Wizards’ interest in trading All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
  • The Celtics and impending free agent Kyrie Irving will meet soon, possibly before the draft, to discuss his future with the organization.
  • The Grizzlies have ramped up trade talks involving point guard Mike Conley. The Jazz are the leading contenders for Conley’s services.
  • The Suns have discussed moving the No. 6 pick, as well as forwards T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, in separate trade packages.

Draft Notes: Wizards, White, Garland

The Wizards will work out Coby White (North Carolina) and Nassir Little (North Carolina) on Monday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports relays (Twitter link) Both prospects are options for the team at No. 9.

Jonathan Givony has White, who will be the highest-ranked prospect to work out for the Wizards, going to the Suns at No. 6 in his latest mock draft on ESPN. Givony places Little in Minnesota at No. 11.

[Related: Could The Wizards Be The “Right Situation” For Keldon Johnson?]

Kevin Porter Jr. (USC) was previously scheduled to take part in the workout, though he will no longer be in attendance. Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • The Bulls will work out Darius Garland this week, Givony passes along (Twitter link). The Knicks, Lakers, Cavs, and Suns have either worked out Garland or plan to do so.
  • Garland believes he’s the best point guard in the draft, as he tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. “I humbly say this, I think I’m the best [guard] in the draft,” he told McMenamin. “I mean, I think I can do everything that an NBA team wants me to do.”
  • Garland’s workouts with the Lakers was particularly impressive, a source tells McMenamin while referencing the point guard’s shot-making ability and deep range. The event took place prior to the Anthony Davis trade.

Draft Updates: Oni, Langford, Bitadze, Bone, Harris

Yale wing Miye Oni returned to the Bucks’ practice facility for a second workout on Saturday, ESPN’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Oni averaged 17.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.6 APG during his junior season. The 6’6” Oni is hoping to become the first Ivy Leaguer drafted since 1995, Schultz adds.

We have more draft info:

  • Indiana freshman swingman Romeo Langford is meeting with the Heat this weekend, Schultz reports in another tweet. Miami possesses the No. 13 pick and Langford is ranked No. 14 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
  • International prospect Goga Bitadze is visiting the Celtics, Pistons and Hornets in the days leading up to Thursday’s draft. according to a tweet from Hawks website writer Kevin Chouinard. The 6’11” Bitadze, 19, led the EuroLeague and Adriatic League in blocks on both a per-game and per-minute basis. He is ranked No. 17 overall by Givony.
  • The Wizards worked out Tennessee guard Jordan Bone on Saturday, according to a team press release. The point guard is No. 56 on Givony’s list.
  • Forward Terry Harris worked out for the Knicks on Thursday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. He also visited the Nets this week and will work out for the Mavericks and Jazz, Bondy adds in another tweet. He played for North Carolina A&T in his senior year, averaging 8.1 PPG. He is the younger brother of Sixers free agent forward Tobias Harris.

Why Trading Bradley Beal Could Benefit The Wizards

While Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is reluctant to trade Bradley Beal, doing so may represent the team’s quickest path to contention, David Aldridge of The Athletic writes.

Beal is an enormously valuable asset that could net a batch of valuable assets. The Wizards, then, could focus on John Wall‘s rehabilitation in hopes of surrounding him with a strong rotation once he’s healthy.

Aldridge clarifies that the Wizards shouldn’t trade Beal because of any shortcomings, in fact, the opposite. An abundance of teams are clearing space to sign max free agents this summer but there’s only so much top talent to go around.

Beal, as a result, could draw a significant return if the Wizards are willing to leverage the 25-year-old’s excellent 2018/19 campaign.

Wizards Denying Masai Ujiri Rumor

The Wizards have “no imminent plans” to make an offer to Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. A source close to the organization is downplaying reports that Washington will offer Ujiri up to $10MM a season to run the front office.

The Wizards have not named a new permanent head of basketball operations since Ernie Grunfeld was dismissed in April. There was a failed attempt last month to lure Nuggets president Tim Connelly, but otherwise the search for a new executive has been quiet, leading to speculation that the Wizards were waiting for the NBA Finals to end so they could make a play for Ujiri.

Ujiri was considered among the league’s top executives even before adding an NBA title to his resume last night. He built successful teams in Denver prior to coming to Toronto and transforming that team into a championship contender through a series of bold moves.

Ujiri is also under contract for the next two seasons, meaning the Raptors could demand compensation from any team that tries to poach him. Fred Katz of The Athletic recently noted that Toronto set the price at two first-round picks when Ujiri had discussions with the Knicks a few seasons ago.

Larry Tanenbaum, owner of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Raptors, told Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet last night that he’s not worried about losing Ujiri (Twitter link).

“I know Masai. He’s like my son. There’s no chance he’s leaving Toronto,” Tanenbaum said. “… I think if you ask Masai, he’s got everything he wants.”

Could The Wizards Be The “Right Situation” For Keldon Johnson?

The Wizards hold the No. 9 overall pick in next week’s draft, though they haven’t had many of the elite prospects in Washington for workouts. Keldon Johnson broke that trend, participating in drills at the team’s practice facility on Thursday. The former Kentucky Wildcat described the experience as “amazing” when speaking with Hoops Rumors and other media in attendance.

“I feel I really got to compete today. Got in a great workout. Great staff. I feel everyone was involved in it. … I just had an amazing time,” Johnson said.

Opinions on where Johnson will be drafted range from late-lottery pick to the early 20s. The 6’6″ wing is no. 19 on ESPN’s latest top 100 and Jonathan Givony has Utah selecting him with the No. 23 overall selection in his latest mock draft.

Johnson doesn’t worry about where he’s projected to go. He takes the same approach to invites regardless of what pick the team possesses.

“I don’t really look at it,” he said. “I just go into the workout open-minded. Whatever workouts I have, I go in there and kill [the workout] and go at whoever’s in front of me.”

Iowa State’s Cameron Lard was the only prospect to participate in on-court activities with Johnson. Many pre-draft workouts have upwards of six prospects. Others are merely individual workouts. The two-man workout calls for more one-on-one drills and showcases a different skill set.

Johnson, who scored 13.5 points per game at Kentucky last season, feels his ballhandling is an area of his game that’s underrated. The Virginia-native feels he can better showcase that ability at the next level and added that the tempo of the NBA suits his game. “It’s a lot of up-and-down. … I think I’ll transition well,” the 19-year-old said.

Johnson simply wants to go to the “right situation.” When asked to clarify, the prospect emphasized a place where he can learn. “Just come in, play, learn. Just listen to my coaches,” he said.

John Calipari‘s former recruit previously worked out for a bevy of teams, including the Celtics — owners of three picks in the top 22. He’ll head to Minnesota next, which will likely be his last workout before the NBA draft.

The draft process continues for Washington today. The Wizards will bring in six prospects, as the team relays on its website. Corey Davis (Houston), Jessie Govan (Georgetown), Jaylen Hands (UCLA), Lyle Hexom (Peru State), Jonathan Kasibabu (Fairfield) and V.J. King (Louisville) will participate in drills while Sekou Doumbouya (France) will simply meet with the team.

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.