Interim president Tommy Sheppard to spearhead Wizards free agency

Chris Lingebach
June 18, 2019 - 7:02 pm

The Wizards will not hire a new president of basketball operations before the start of free agency, Candace Buckner reports for The Washington Post.

Buckner spoke with team owner Ted Leonsis, who will reportedly entrust interim president Tommy Sheppard to run the NBA Draft for the Wizards on Thursday, as well as their maneuvers in free agency, which begins June 30.

"I am very happy with the work and preparation Tommy Sheppard, Coach (Scott) Brooks and our staff have done and I'm confident we'll execute both the draft and free agency in an expert manner," Leonsis said in a statement issued to The Post. 

"Having that confidence has given me the freedom to continue the conversations I've been having on how to build a great organization and, as a result, I don't expect to make any decisions before the start of free agency."

Further, Leonsis shot down any and all reports of the Wizards' interest in Raptors team president Masai Ujiri, which began to circulate around the start of the NBA Finals, and only became more frequent as Toronto crept closer to winning the NBA Title. One report indicated the Wizards were prepared to offer Ujiri the role of team president, on a contract that would pay close to $10 million per year that included an opportunity to gain ownership equity.

"We have not commented on the many rumors surrounding potential candidates during this process, but I wanted to make an exception in this case out of respect to the Raptors organization as they celebrate their well-deserved championship," Leonsis told The Post. "Any reports that we have interest in Masai Ujiri as a candidate are simply not true, and we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process."

The Wizards fired longtime team president Ernie Grunfeld on April 2. Since then, they've interviewed a host of candidates, including Nuggets team president and local native Tim Connelly.

It looks as though it's now Sheppard's job to lose.

The Wizards have the ninth overall pick in Thursday's draft.

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