5 Tommy Sheppard quotes which should give Wizards fans hope

Josh Luckenbaugh
July 23, 2019 - 11:02 am

A lot has changed for Tommy Sheppard in the last 24 hours. 

Sheppard officially had the interim tag removed from his job title Monday, making him the Wizards' permanent GM, which turned out to be just one part of a massive shake-up in the Wizards front office. 

Sheppard joined Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan Monday afternoon to chat about the new organizational structure and his plans for the franchise. Here are five things he said which should make Wizards fans excited for the Tommy Sheppard era in D.C. 

1. Valuing Draft Picks and Free Agents 

"I've seen the value of that as you watch ... the Finals, and you see some undrafted players in very key positions and second-round players playing key roles in winning a championship. That needs to resonate, we need to find players any way we can. The opportunity to keep adding to our collection of players, we didn't stop after draft night. We went through free agency and we tried to recover picks for the future because we know the value of those picks, what they represent. Rookie contracts, they give a player an opportunity to really outperform their contract. There's high value in those contracts because it does not get cheaper as they go along."

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"One of my goals is to change the term 'free agency.' Because there's nothing free about free agency, right? I don't know why we call it free agency. But I know this: it's a great opportunity for the Wizards moving forward. The more options you have to add players, the better off it's going to be. And I think that's gonna bode well for our future."

"I think our fanbase will get excited about these rookies. I think they're gonna get really excited about having some of the second-, third-year players that we acquired. Certainly bringing back the players that they've watched over the last couple years and be excited about. I think there's a great deal of optimism for the future."

2. Drafting Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield 

"When you're looking at the draft and this year's draft when 28 kids were traded out of the 60, and there were so many picks that were traded just even in the first round, tells you it was an unpredictable draft. We were accused of playing it safe, we were accused of taking big risks. We really tune out that noise. What we really try to do is let's get the very best player for the Wizards."

"We identified Rui as somebody we had huge value on the fact that he played at a great program, was very well-coached. He came to basketball very late in life, so there's a great deal of upside I think that we can help him as he develops. I'm a big subscriber to the less miles on the tires at an older age. Being 21, I think there's an opportunity. He's still very young, but his body works as he hasn't had tons and tons of miles on him compared to some of the younger players."

"This year showed us: 17 players didn't finish the physical at the NBA Combine. There's a lot of players that are physically unable to perform during workouts at the combine, and that's troubling to me. These are young people, and I think we got to do a much better job as we develop players at a younger age to have them ready for their professional careers. And maybe we got to take a step back and say, 'Are we doing too much too soon?'"

"And then obviously making the commitment we did in the second round to get Admiral Schofield. That's another guy that's all about winning. His resume speaks for itself. The opportunity to get him and I think add value to our roster because of the person that he is, the player that he is, that was a no-brainer. And the commitment was simply one phone call to Ted (Leonsis) and he said, 'Do it.' There was no, 'Hey you got to explain this' or anything. I think he trusted our judgment because we worked him through how many players that we valued and more than we thought the draft cut off at. Admiral was right in that area, and when we were able to acquire him, that was a perfect situation for us."

3. Keeping Bradley Beal

"Bradley was so intimately involved in everything that we did in the offseason. Ted consulted with him throughout this entire process, I consulted with him throughout the entire process. He was involved in our draft in terms of, hey, he's not in there having a vote. He has a say. We were showing him players that we were looking at, and I think he definitely felt included in everything that we did, as did John (Wall)." 

"I think with Brad, there's a player we're building this franchise around. Bradley Beal's that, and I think his ability to help us in recruiting with Thomas Bryant, and all our other free agents certainly, but he was key in that whole recruitment process. He's been dialed in on the coaching, we're adding assistant coaches. He's been dialed in on Summer League, came out and watched our players, worked out with our guys. He's been tremendous, and I would expect nothing different. Bradley's been a stand-up person since the first day he walked in here, and I can't say enough we're building this franchise around him."

"I think it's already been broken that the first day we can possibly offer anything to him is July 26, and that's a given out of respect to him. I don't expect to hear anything back, whatever transpires moving forward that'll be something done in private and internally. But we definitely want to make sure he's aware that we know the very first moment that he is able to receive that extension, that he knows that he has it from us. And that's out of respect to everything that he's done here and what he's about, and he's part of the fabric of this organization. So I think that makes complete sense to do that."

4. Working as part of Monumental Basketball group with Sashi Brown and John Thompson III

"It's something we really proposed to Ted when I went through the interview process. More firepower, we need more minds, more creative, diverse backgrounds to help us be the world-class organization that we both thought we could be. ... Those backgrounds of each of those people that you mentioned with Sashi, with Coach Thompson III, with Daniel (Medina), with Sashia Jones who we promoted from within, everybody brings so much wisdom, so much experience, and so much talent to what we already had. I think it's an easy conversation to have."

"I've known Coach since I've been in D.C., we've always conversed. He came to practices last year, especially worked a lot with him with USA Basketball, so I think of him as being a contemporary and a great person to bounce stuff off of. Sashi and I, we finally met today, but we know so many people in common. And anybody that knows me ... knows that I've traveled the world in search of better ways of doing things, in terms of training athletes, in terms of recovery, in terms of injury prevention. And I spent a lot of time doing European soccer, and I spent a lot of time with the NFL. And these are a merging of two areas of, I think, some of the world-class thinkers, and to have those guys on board with us has been fantastic."

"Nobody recruits more than a college coach, and we're in the recruiting business now. So having Coach Thompson, his ability to help us as we go through this whole 360 for our players, is just a tremendous resource. And I can't imagine who has final say, who does this, who does that. That's not really as important to me. Ultimately in basketball (decisions), yes certainly we have the final call. But we're gonna all collaborate together to make sure we've got all the best information to make the best decision. That's a no-brainer." 

5. John Wall's Health Status 

"No calendar's gonna tell us when John comes back, and there's no clock that says what time he's coming back. It's gonna be when he's 100 percent healthy. And now more than ever, we have more safeguards in place to make sure he's 100 percent healthy. If there's one player that thinks that he's 100 percent and is probably at about 65 percent health, it'd be John. I've seen him play with broken hands in the playoffs. I've seen the things that it took him to get ready for a game when he had the bone spur in his foot and his knees were bummed up. I've seen what he would play through, and the pain that he would endure to just be able to go out and perform. So we're gonna be incredibly cautious."

"He has a contract that represents the next four years. It's not about this season, it's about the entire rest of his career. So we've got to be so, so protective. And I think everybody saw throughout this NBA season how drastically careers are altered by an injury. And we definitely want to do everything we can (to) just put him in the very best position to be successful."

Listen to Tommy Sheppard's full appearance on Chad Dukes Vs. The World below:

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