Miller: Tommy Sheppard is not 'Ernie Grunfeld 2.0'

Josh Luckenbaugh
June 19, 2019 - 11:50 am

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis' decision to not hire a permanent general manager before the start of free agency left many fans worried about the direction of the franchise.

The Wizards' approach in Thursday's NBA Draft and free agency will be left up to a group led by interim GM Tommy Sheppard, who has served in that role since the April 2 firing of Ernie Grunfeld

But while some on the outside have their concerns, Chris Miller assured The Sports Junkies Wednesday Sheppard is far from his predecessor. 

"Tommy Sheppard, from what I've seen with my own eyes and talking to my sources there, is not Ernie Grunfeld 2.0," Miller said. "There are certain things that he has done already from April 2 lends me to think that he's his own guy, and he can make his own decisions."

"Some of the things that he does, like holding people accountable, are real."

Miller brought up the example of Devin Robinson, who was arrested on April 13 after a fight with Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills outside a D.C. nightclub. The Wizards quickly announced they would not extend him a qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season.

"They didn't deal with it with, 'Oh, it's okay, he's young.' They fired him, essentially. They got him out of here," Miller said. "That's a culture change. So, Tommy Sheppard is his own man."

Sheppard and the Wizards front office have several important decisions to make in the coming weeks, from who to take with the ninth pick to if to trade or extend Bradley Beal. And regarding the former in particular, Washington must get this draft pick right. 

"From everything that I've been able to gather over the last couple of weeks, I think the Wizards are going to be very aggressive tomorrow night," Miller told the Junkies. "I don't necessarily think that's moving up, it might be moving back to get a pick and something in the second round."

"The narrative of working with (John) Wall and Beal, living under that assumption that they're going to continue that project, you have to hit on every draft pick. You have to hit on every free agent to make this work."

"If they could ever figure out the draft, this is the year to do it. And at No. 9, I don't necessarily think you're going to get a bad player. I think you're actually going to get somebody that can help the team."

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