The Washington Wizards parted ways with general manager and team president Tommy Sheppard on Wednesday evening. The Wizards finished with a 35-47 record for the second straight season and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years.
Sheppard was initially appointed interim general manager in April 2019 after Ernie Grunfeld was relieved of the position. He took the job full-time three months later and signed a multi-year contract extension in November 2021 that also included the title of team president.
Official: Tommy Sheppard relieved of his duties as General Manager and President.https://t.co/ljtLsF9Msx
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 19, 2023
Sheppard’s journey in the NBA closely resembles that of Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan’s in the NHL. Like MacLellan with the Caps and previous general manager George McPhee, Sheppard worked in the Wizards organization under his predecessor for over a decade before eventually supplanting Grunfeld.
Unfortunately for the Wizards, Sheppard’s promotion did not work out as well as MacLellan’s. Under Sheppar,d all the Wizards have to show for in the postseason is a quick five-game exit to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2021.
That sort of inability to succeed in the playoffs is what led to Sheppard’s dismissal.
“Tommy Sheppard was relieved from his duties as General Manager and President of the Washington Wizards,” team owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement. “Failure to make the playoffs the last two seasons was very disappointing to our organization and our fans. A search for new leadership will begin immediately for an executive from outside the organization.
“I would like to thank Tommy for his dedication to the Wizards organization and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” he finished.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that despite Sheppard’s release, Wes Unseld Jr. will return for his third season as head coach and that Leonsis remains a strong advocate for the 47-year-old, Catonsville, MD native.
Unseld Jr. will lead a team that has quite an uncertain roster heading into next season. Forward Kyle Kuzma, who put up over 21 points per game this past year, will hit free agency. 2020 first-round draft selection Deni Avdija is also eligible for a possible extension.
In the past, Sheppard and Leonsis both were convinced that they should build their team around star guard Bradley Beal. So much so, that they rewarded Beal with a five-year, $251 million max contract last July.
Beal’s contract has a ton of trade protections, but Beal himself may decide he wants to move on given the change in leadership in the front office. Star players in the NBA have much more say in where they end up every season than almost any other professional sport. Beal may determine that the new general manager will not give him the same role and scoring freedom that Sheppard did.
The Wizards do currently have a leg up on the rest of the league in their search as they are the only NBA team presently looking for a new general manager and team president. The 2023 NBA playoffs are at the very beginning stages of the first round.
Screenshot via Washington Wizards/YouTube
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.