With Michael Winger, Ted Leonsis finally says the status quo is no longer good

Ted Leonsis didn’t want to run it back.

This is a major step in the right direction for the Wizards, who unofficially hired Michael Winger from the Clippers on Wednesday to run the show in D.C.

Who knows if Winger, with extensive experience on the contract negotiation/analytics side of teams in L.A., Oklahoma City and Cleveland, will be able to turn things around here? He is not, people who’ve worked with him and know him say, someone who’s going to travel with the team on the road and glad hand them when they enter the locker room after wins. He may not even be at games. He is not a scouting bird dog. He will have to hire a general manager to do all of that. He was team counsel for both the Cavaliers and Thunder. He is not a basketball guy, in the traditional sense.

But none of that matters. Or, at least, it doesn’t matter all that much, right now.

What matters is we know, finally, that winning and losing matters to Leonsis, the Wizards’ governor. We know that it’s not okay that the Wizards continue to scrape the bottom of the NBA barrel, meandering through seasons, with no long-range notion for how they planned to escape from the league’s dregs.

If Winger doesn’t formally replace Tommy Sheppard in job title, he will at least have the green light to do whatever’s necessary, including – be still, my beating heart – a total rebuild, meaning building through the draft and not through incremental, piecemeal trades. Don’t say “tank” around Leonsis; it makes him break out into hives. But if “rebuild” is more palatable in the genteel world of Universe Mastering, so be it. Winger can do whatever he wants with the existing roster, and no NBA executive worth his iPhone thinks this roster is good enough to compete at a high level.

It does not mean the Wizards will trade Bradley Beal tomorrow. Or that they will definitely not re-sign either Kyle Kuzma or Kristaps Porziņģis this summer.

But it does mean a significant roster shakeup is in the offing. As it had to be.


Michael Winger will have the authority to reshape the Washington Wizards, sources say

Yes, teams that go far in the postseason tend to be teams with continuity, whose best players have played together four or five seasons. But Washington’s best players, year in and year out, haven’t been anywhere near good enough to scare anyone. So, get better best players.

By the way: it’s too clever by half to say Sheppard didn’t have any plan the last four years. That’s not fair. The plan, to gradually build around Beal, didn’t work. But that’s not the same as having no plan. And that plan, as of 12 months ago, had Leonsis’ blessing. (Nor is it cool that neither Trajan Langdon, the Pelicans’ GM who was the other known candidate to formally interview in Washington, nor Langdon’s representative heard from the Wizards Wednesday, and had to read a Tweet informing them that Washington was going in another direction.)

Winger, the former…

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Read More: With Michael Winger, Ted Leonsis finally says the status quo is no longer good 2023-05-25 21:37:15

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