Washington Wizards: Can Things Get Any Worse?

Washington Wizards Russell Westbrook. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Russell Westbrook. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Washington Wizards John Wall Bradley Beal.
Washington Wizards John Wall Bradley Beal. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The Front Office

It was a fun trial run, but the tenure of Tommy Sheppard needs to end. After the summer of 2019, some fans were hopeful that Sheppard, although he came from the same tree as Ernie Grunfeld, would be a breath of fresh air after years of front office frustration.

The 2019-2020 season was a year for development, and Sheppard made a few small moves that seemed promising, including grabbing high-upside players like Davis Bertans, Moritz Wagner, and Isaac Bonga for next to nothing. But Wagner and Bonga haven’t panned out. Plus, when the pressure was on last offseason, and the Wizards organization made it clear that they were ready to compete in 2021, Sheppard and the front office laid an egg.

The John Wall Situation

This mishandling of the John Wall situation ultimately falls on Sheppard. Maybe not the trade itself (it seems owner Ted Leonsis had a hand in that), but the whole situation has Sheppard’s fingerprints all over it.

During the offseason, while Wall prepared to come back after suffering an Achilles injury in 2018, Sheppard was in interviews telling anyone who would listen that this was Bradley Beal’s team, completely unprovoked. He just made it a point to tell them. Maybe to build favor with Beal, but it didn’t make Wall feel welcome back.

I will not sit here and tell you that John Wall has had zero faults in his career. I’ve seen the gang sign video and understand that the organization was clearly displeased with that situation. However, Wall made a mistake and admitted to it. Move on.

But Sheppard further soured the relationship by telling everyone that Beal had essentially replaced Wall as the face of the franchise, all while Wall was doing everything he could to return to the court and take the Wizards back to the playoffs. There was no reason for that. And it got even worse after Wall was finally traded for Russell Westbrook despite Sheppard’s advance about any trade rumors being false.

Free Agency

After sending Wall to Houston in exchange for Russell Westbrook, the Wizards had a few clear needs that they needed to address in Free Agency. They needed rim protection, and they needed wing depth.

They successfully re-signed Davis Bertans after declaring that priority number one. But they HAD to keep attempting to retool. Names like Tristan Thompson, Jae Crowder, and Jerami Grant were on Wizards fans’ shortlist of guys that could help get the Wizards back to the playoffs.

Instead, Sheppard opted to pay $7 million to Robin Lopez and sign Raul Neto to a vet min and call it a day. No rim protection, no wing depth.

Although both players have shown flashes at times, the bigger issue is the failure to address what the team really needed. Even if the Wizards had confidence in Thomas Bryant, Sheppard certainly sabotaged the team’s ability to improve the center position by telling free agents that Bryant had the starting job locked up.

Trade Deadline

And now we’re at the dreaded trade deadline. The idea that Sheppard has time on his hands, as Wallace reported, is ludicrous. He manages a team with two star players sitting near the bottom of the standings. He should be working as if there is no tomorrow.

I don’t understand how he can operate as if everything is fine and dandy.

He doesn’t want to give up young pieces for vets to compete this year, which would jeopardize the Wizards’ future. But he is reluctant to move any of the vets to build a treasure trove of assets that would help them build for the future.

Soooo we are just content with the roster that has us at 15-27? Great.

Sheppard continues to fumble, and unfortunately, in this business, time does not heal all. Blow. It. Up.