In just a short amount of time, Tommy Sheppard has flexed his muscle and made some moves as the interim general manager for the Washington Wizards. It’s time to give him some props.
Even though the Washington Wizards have not yet named a permanent replacement for long-time general manager and not-so-recently fired Ernie Grunfeld, they still found themselves involved with the NBA’s latest blockbuster trade. And it is just the latest in a series of impressive moves from Tommy Sheppard. It’s time to give some props to the man running things in Washington.
Since the Washington Post reported that Ted Leonsis wouldn’t be hiring a new president before the start of free agency, effectively handing over the reins to Tommy Sheppard, Sheppard has been busy.
In just over a week, Sheppard has added a skilled scorer with an elite frame in Rui Hachimura, acquired a second-round pick and stole Admiral Schofield with the 42nd pick in the draft. He added veteran Jonathon Simmons, more young talent in Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones, and a 2022 second-round pick.
And he’s not done. According to Fred Katz of The Athletic, the Wizards and Simmons have pushed his guaranteed salary date back from July 1 to July 8 in an attempt to trade the veteran for even more assets.
Seems like a decent haul. Maybe no immediately franchise-changing players but it must have cost the Wizards a decent amount, right? Wrong.
All these acquisitions cost the Wizards is money. They didn’t lose any players under contract. They didn’t lose any future draft picks. Most importantly, they didn’t lose any of their free agency flexibility.
The Wizards have extended qualifying offers to Thomas Bryant, Tomas Satoransky, and Bobby Portis. There’s rumored “mutual interest” between the Wizards and Jabari Parker, whose team option they recently declined. And despite recently adding a number of players to the roster (although they all may not be there on the opening night roster), they should still have the flexibility to pursue whomever they want to retain.
In the immediate aftermath of the Grunfeld firing, the one thing fans were calling for was a new, fresh face in the front office. Keeping any remnants of the past around wouldn’t help foster a bright future, or at least that was the thinking. But in his short audition, Sheppard has more than proven that’s not the case.
The Wizards feel like a new franchise heading in a new direction. In the draft, they chose production over hype. They’re finding valuable players while in a bind and paying attention to the margins.
For a team that was said to be handcuffed by far too many bad contracts, Sheppard seems to be staying pretty active and doing a great job. Maybe someone from within, someone who saw everything that was going wrong, is exactly what the Wizards need.