After a complete overhaul over the offseason, the Washington Wizards‘ new-look front office has finally taken shape.
On Monday, the Wizards announced that assistant general manager Tommy Sheppard will step up and serve as the team’s new GM moving forward, with several prominent people taking roles on the staff behind him. Other moves include former Georgetown coach John Thompson III leading a new athlete development and engagement department, former NFL executive and Harvard Law graduate Sashi Brown now serving as chief planning and operations officer, and Daniel Medina — formerly of the Philadelphia 76ers — becoming chief of athlete care and performance.
Sheppard has been with the Wizards for 16 years, mainly serving as the assistant general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations. He will succeed Ernie Grunfeld, who was fired in April.
“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 owner Ted Leonsis said of the Wizards’ new-look front office 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.”
With his new executives now in place, Leonsis is hoping that the Wizards climb to contention will be a quick one.
“I like [Sheppard’s] dexterity to be able to deal with the existing NBA, but to also really look at it as a global enterprise,” Leonsis said. “My belief is that you can do things fast. We have the wherewithal and resources and facilities and technology … If we can bring John [Wall] 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.”
Brown, who worked as counsel for the Jacksonville Jaguars before becoming executive vice president of the Cleveland Browns for two years until he was fired in December 2017, will “manage efforts relating to technology, finance, communications, security, research and player engagement,” the Wizards said in a statement. Brown apparently will not be involved in basketball operations.
The Wizards finished 10th in the East last season, and it seems pretty clear that Leonsis isn’t interested in remaining outside of the playoff picture for long. So now it’s up to Sheppard and the staff behind him to turn things around, quickly.