The Washington Wizards front office had an obvious Plan A during their search for a new President of Basketball Operations. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis shot his shot at Denver Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly, but to no avail.
Plan A has officially failed, with Connelly staying with the Nuggets.
Neil Olshey, the current President of Basketball Operations for the Blazers, has had his name tossed around, yet the potential candidate has unfortunately agreed to stay in Portland until at least the 2023 season. So with two of the most credible candidates off the market, where do the Wizards go from here?
The Wizards had previously interviewed former Hawks GM Danny Ferry, Thunder Assistant GM Troy Weaver, and current Wizards interim Front Office Leader Tommy Sheppard. While these men are conceivable candidates, none of them are currently serving as a GM, nor would any make the big splash that owner Ted Leonsis is hoping to make.
As of right now, Tommy Sheppard has to be viewed as the favorite to permanently land the job. He’s been running the show ever since the firing of Ernie Grunfeld and his in-house status should give him an advantage over other candidates.
However, promoting Sheppard is a move that could be met with immense backlash. Wizards fans may feel that Sheppard is not a monumental enough change from the disastrous Ernie Grunfeld era. While it may not be fair to judge Sheppard based on Ernie’s failure, the Wizards fan base has grown restless due to poor front office decisions and mediocre basketball. Hiring Sheppard could be viewed as just more of the same.
With all of that being said, the fact that the Wizards have yet to hire someone could mean that they are still looking at someone left in the playoffs. Masai Ujiri, the current General Manager of the Toronto Raptors, has been linked to the Wizards in the past. While this would certainly qualify as a splash move, the same issues that arose with Connolly would come up here: why would Ujiri want to leave the finals bound Raptors for the money strapped, 50 loss Wizards? And could the Wizards even afford to pay his high salary demands? Prying Ujiri away from Toronto would be immensely challenging, but would certainly be worth it in the long-run as Ujiri has proven to be one of the league’s best General Managers.
Whatever Wizards owner Ted Leonsis decides to do, he better make up his mind fast as the NBA draft is less than a month away.
Cross your fingers Wizards fans – we’re in the endgame now.