Wes Unseld Jr.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Draft, Avdija, Staff, Future

Bradley Beal has not requested a trade, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard confirmed today, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Reports surfaced over the weekend that Beal was pondering whether to make a trade request this week, which would have given the Wizards a chance to acquire picks in Thursday’s draft. However, Beal never made that request, according to multiple reports.

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

  • The team owns a mid-first round selection at No. 15 but does not currently possess a second-rounder on Thursday. That may change, as Sheppard said the Wizards “definitely want to get something in the second round,” according to Katz (Twitter link).
  • Sheppard used the old “best player available” line regarding the first-round pick, saying the club isn’t necessarily looking for the player who will make the biggest immediate impact, Katz tweets.
  • Last year’s lottery pick, Deni Avdija, has been cleared for on-court play and will begin contact work in a couple of weeks. Sheppard said the Wizards will wait to see if Avdija, who suffered a right ankle fracture in April, will play for the Summer League team (Katz, Twitter link).
  • New head coach Wes Unseld Jr. will have the most of the input on putting together his staff (Katz, Twitter link).
  • Sheppard doesn’t necessarily believe he has to compromise the team’s future to build a contender for next season. “I think there’s ways to get better next season and to have something in the bank to improve in the outer year,” he said. (Katz, Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: LiAngelo Ball, Robinson, Heat, Unseld

LiAngelo Ball is signing a deal to play for the Hornets’ Summer League team, reports Rod Boone of Sports Illustrated. The move will reunite LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball for the first time since they played in Lithuania together during the 2018/2019 season.

The middle Ball brother has been working out with members of the Hornets, notably RFA-to-be Devonte’ Graham. He had joined the Thunder’s G League team in 2020 just days before the league was shut down due to COVID-19, and signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Pistons in December, but failed to play due to an ankle injury and was subsequently waived.

The Summer League opportunity could be a chance for the third Ball brother to get a foothold in the NBA, writes Boone.

We have more news from around the Southeast Division:

  • Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, entering his first free agency as a coveted player, isn’t sure what’s going to happen, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’d love to try to make something work with Miami,” Robinson said. “The reality is, like, I tell this to my family, I don’t know how the next 10-plus days, two weeks, how it’s going to play out. At this point, and I’ve said this already on this podcast, but I think the biggest challenge has been detaching myself from a particular outcome.”
  • Winderman also answered a mailbag question about whether the Heat could bring back former players Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow this summer. Winderman believed that there could be more desire with the team to bring back Richardson than Winslow, but if Richardson declines his $11.6MM player option with the Mavericks, it’s unlikely that the Heat could afford him.
  • Wes Unseld Jr. discussed his on-court plans for the Wizards this week, as Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. Unseld talked about trying to limit early shot-clock opportunities, his philosophy on the intersection between creating a sound defensive scheme and tailoring it to individual personnel’s strengths and preferences, and how he wants to make Bradley Beal even more effective. “A lot of times, he’s gonna see two, sometimes three bodies,” Unseld said. “So, getting him off the ball to get it back, putting him in multiple actions to kinda loosen up defenders I think is gonna be helpful for him.”

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Grimes, OKC, Moody, Wolves, Nuggets

The Jazz are hosting a pre-draft workout on Thursday that will includes Houston’s Quentin Grimes, Providence’s David Duke, and San Diego State’s Matt Mitchell, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic.

Jones categorizes it as an important session for the Jazz, who like Grimes as a potential target at No. 30 and want to get a closer look at Mitchell, who has worked out for more than 10 teams and is considered a draft riser.

Sources tell Jones that other prospects the Jazz are eyeing as possibilities at No. 30 include Nah’Shon Hyland, Ayo Dosunmu, Miles McBride, Herb Jones, Joel Ayayi from Gonzaga, Joshua Primo, and Jared Butler.

  • Arkansas wing Moses Moody visited the Thunder in Oklahoma City earlier this week, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee tweets. Moody is the 16th-ranked prospect on ESPN’s big board, so he could play be in play for OKC at No. 16 or 18 next Thursday.
  • Now that Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore have formally been approved as minority stakeholders in the Timberwolves, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic examines the challenges facing A-Rod and Lore, who will assume majority control of the franchise by 2023. As Krawczynski observes, there are similarities between the Wolves’ current situation and the one that Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan inherited in 2014 when they bought the Bucks, though it’s probably unrealistic to expect the next seven years in Minnesota to play out like the last seven in Milwaukee.
  • The Nuggets put forth a “full, all-hands-on-deck organizational effort” to ensure longtime assistant Wes Unseld Jr. got a head coaching job, Denver’s president of basketball operations Tim Connelly told Fred Katz of The Athletic. Connelly said he informed the Wizards that Unseld “is one of the brightest minds I’ve ever been around.”
  • South Carolina wing A.J. Lawson worked out today for the Nuggets, according to Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Herro, Unseld Jr., T. Murphy, Magic

Although Heat president Pat Riley considers Tyler Herro to be a “core player” for the franchise, Herro heard his name in a lot of trade rumors during his second NBA season, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Herro was mentioned frequently as Miami pursued James Harden in January and Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline in March. Now that he’s been exposed to the distraction of trade talk, Herro plans to ignore it in the future.

“I’m done listening to all that, honestly,” he said. “I think every time that we’re not playing or even if we are playing, my name is brought up in something. So it is what it is at this point. Like I said, I’m focused on getting better, getting this team better.”

Herro averaged 15.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game this season while shooting 43.9% from the field, all better numbers than in his rookie year. He has already gained four pounds since the Heat were knocked out of the playoffs and hopes to add between 10 to 12 overall to become stronger for next season.

“I think it translates obviously offensively,” he said. “Getting stronger, I can get to my spots easier and just being able to defend bigger guys than me. I want to be able to be as big as the rest of the vets are in the league. So just gaining weight I think will help me tremendously on both ends.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards conducted 26 interviews before deciding to hire Wes Unseld Jr. as their next coach, writes Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports Washington. During an appearance this week on the Sports Junkies podcast, general manager Tommy Sheppard talked about the process, which included 18 formal interviews and eight others over the phone. “We went about it pretty thoroughly, pretty thoughtfully, and where we arrived was at a fantastic, young head coach that has been putting in the time and doing everything he could possibly do,” Sheppard said. “Not a self-promoter, but somebody that was ready for this job.”
  • Potential lottery pick Trey Murphy is scheduled to work out for the Wizards on Thursday, the team announced on its website. A junior out of Virginia, he shot over 40% from beyond the arc last season and ranked seventh in the ACC in made three-pointers. St. Louis guard Jordan Goodwin and Kyree Walker of Chameleon BX will also participate.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic proposes a few potential draft-day trades for the Magic involving the other teams in the top six.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Kuminga, Unseld, Oladipo, Hawks

Projected top-eight pick Jonathan Kuminga worked out for the Magic on Tuesday, writes Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com. Kuminga has also worked out for the Cavaliers, Raptors and Thunder, and has an upcoming workout with the Warriors.

According to Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel, Kuminga said that the workout with Orlando went well and that his shooting is better than he showed during his time with the G League Ignite.

I’m not for sure if I’m a top-five pick, but I’m not worried about that,” Kuminga said. “That’s just the rankings. We don’t know where I might end up, so I don’t really be concerned about draft picks.”

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Unseld Jr., Wizards, Hawks, K. Jones

Wes Unseld Jr. put in plenty of time before earning his first chance to be a head coach, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Unseld, who was formally hired by the Wizards on Saturday after weeks of speculation, was also a finalist for the head coaching vacancy in Orlando.

He comes to Washington from Denver, where he served as associate head coach under Michael Malone. Unseld was in charge of the Nuggets’ defensive schemes and is known for working closely with players, often customizing the approach to make them more comfortable, Katz notes. He has been an NBA assistant for 16 years and spent eight years as an advance scout with the Wizards, where he worked with general manager Tommy Sheppard.

“Becoming a head coach in the NBA is a goal that I have pursued my entire adult life and to have that dream realized by coming full circle back to Washington is truly special,” Unseld said in a press release announcing his hiring. “I look forward to representing the DMV (Washington, D.C., metropolitan area), connecting with our fans and establishing a new standard for Wizards basketball.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Wizards Hire Wes Unseld Jr. As Head Coach

The Wizards have formally agreed to a four-year deal with Wes Unseld Jr. that makes him the team’s new head coach, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The club put out a press release officially announcing the move.

“Wes is one of the most highly-regarded assistant coaches in the NBA and clearly separated himself from the large and diverse group of candidates we considered,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “His strong record as an in-game tactician along with his attention to detail on both sides of the ball, combined with his reputation for player development and outstanding character during his 20+ years of coaching left no doubt that he was the best choice to guide our team to the next level.”

Unseld, who grew up in Maryland and attended Johns Hopkins from 1994-97, began his coaching career in 2005 in D.C. He spent six years as an assistant on the Wizards’ staff from 2005-11 before moving on to coaching roles with the Warriors (2011-12), Magic (2012-15), and Nuggets (2015-present).

After promoting him to the role of Michael Malone’s associate head coach a year ago, Denver reportedly made a significant push for Unseld to get his first head coaching job. He had been gaining steam as a candidate in Washington in recent weeks, and was reportedly offered the job by the Wizards on Friday, beating out Bucks assistants Charles Lee and Darvin Ham for the job.

Unseld Jr. is the son of Wes Unseld, who spent over 20 years as a Wizards coach and executive after playing for Washington/Baltimore for 13 seasons. The Hall-of-Famer passed away in 2020.

The younger Unseld will replace Scott Brooks on the sidelines for the Wizards. Brooks coached the team for five seasons, but didn’t reach an agreement on a new contract after Washington was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round this spring.

The Pelicans are now the only team making a coaching change this offseason that hasn’t yet announced its new head coach. However, Suns assistant Willie Green is on track to fill that vacancy.

A full breakdown of this year’s coaching searches can be found right here.

Southeast Notes: Dragic, Heat, Unseld, Hornets

Goran Dragic has been with the Heat for over six seasons, and has played some of the best basketball of his career in Miami. He was arguably the third-best player during the Heat’s run to the Finals last season before a foot injury limited him to two games against the Lakers. But the 35-year-old point guard is coming off an injury-plagued season and owed over $19MM next season.

According to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Heat don’t want to trade Dragic this offseason. But if a deal for a star presents itself, the team would be willing to do so.

We have more news from around the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat have traded away both their picks in this year’s draft, but that hasn’t stopped team president Pat Riley for setting the edict to the scouting department to find and secure useful players from the draft, writes Winderman. “We don’t have any picks, but I can guarantee you we’ll probably get a couple of good players out of this year’s draft, somehow,” Riley said at the end of the season. The Heat have a track record of landing productive players like Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson despite scant draft resources. They’ll try to repeat history this year.
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald looks at how the Olympics experience could help the Heat‘s Nigerian trio of Gabe Vincent, KZ Okpala and Precious Achiuwa. Team Nigeria has been dominant during exhibition games, but if they don’t make the medal round, it’s possible the three young players will be back in Las Vegas for Summer League, looking to build off the momentum and confidence they’ve gained from this experience.
  • Wes Unseld Jr. is not just a familiar name, he’s also an experienced coach who has paid his dues, writes Fred Katz in a piece for The Athletic on the Wizards’ newest head coach. Katz writes that Unseld sold the Wizards based not only on his track record, but also on ideas for how to better utilize star Bradley Beal and last season’s lottery pick Deni Avdija.
  • The Hornets are working out six prospects today, per a tweet from the team: Derrick Alston Jr., Ian Dubose, Romeao Ferguson, Ariel Hukporti, Carlik Jones, and Ruot Monyyong. The Hornets have the 56th and 57th picks in the draft, the range in which most of said prospects may be available.

Wes Unseld Jr. Offered Wizards’ Head Coaching Job

The Wizards have offered their head coaching job to Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Contract negotiations are expected to begin on Saturday and the two parties are likely to come to terms, Wojnarowski adds in a separate tweet, Those talks could begin tonight, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link).

Unseld will replace Scott Brooks after a lengthy search by Washington’s front office. Washington’s brass is confident an agreement will be reached this weekend, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post tweets.

The Nuggets made a hard push for Unseld to get a shot at his first head coaching job, including numerous calls from president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, Singer adds in a separate tweet.

Reports surfaced on Thursday that the Nuggets assistant was the frontrunner for the job. Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee were the other finalists.

Unseld, who grew up in Maryland and attended Johns Hopkins from 1994-97, began his coaching career in 2005 in D.C. He spent six years as an assistant on the Wizards’ staff from 2005-11 before moving on to coaching roles with the Warriors (2011-12), Magic (2012-15), and Nuggets (2015-present).

His father, Hall-of-Famer Wes Unseld Sr., was a D.C. legend. The elder Unseld, who passed away in 2020, 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.

All coaching searches around the league have now been completed. The Pelicans and Wizards were the last two teams seeking a head coach and New Orleans is on the verge of hiring Willie Green to fill their vacancy.

Wes Unseld Jr. Emerging As Frontrunner For Wizards’ Coaching Job

Nuggets associate head coach Wes Unseld Jr. is emerging as the leader to become the Wizards‘ new head coach, according to Shams Charania and Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Athletic’s report comes on the heels of an ESPN report on Wednesday, which suggested that Unseld and Bucks assistant Darvin Ham were the favorites for the Wizards’ job. That story stated that Bucks assistant Charles Lee also remains in the mix, but it appears Unseld has a leg up on the two Milwaukee coaches.

Unseld, who grew up in Maryland and attended Johns Hopkins from 1994-97, began his coaching career in 2005 in D.C. He spent six years as an assistant on the Wizards’ staff from 2005-11 before moving on to coaching roles with the Warriors (2011-12), Magic (2012-15), and Nuggets (2015-present).

It would certainly make for a good story if the Wizards end up choosing Unseld as Scott Brooks‘ replacement, since his father, Hall-of-Famer Wes Unseld Sr., was a D.C. icon. The elder Unseld, who passed away in 2020, 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.

The Pelicans and Wizards are the last two teams still conducting head coaching searches this offseason, though New Orleans appears to be on the verge of hiring Willie Green to fill their vacancy.