After firing President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld on April 2nd, VP of Basketball Operations, Tommy Sheppard, has been in charge of the team’s decision making. Let’s take a look at all of his moves and see if it warrants Majority Owner Ted Leonsis offering him the full-time position.
The Devin Robinson Situation
Sheppard’s first move was to announce that the Wizards would not be extending a qualifying offer to forward Devin Robinson, who was on a two-way contract with the team.
“We are aware of the incident this morning involving Devin and are disappointed in his actions,” the statement reads. “We will not extend him a qualifying offer for the 2019/20 season.”
This essentially meant he would not be back in a Wizards uniform, but in a recent interview with NBCSW’s Chris Miller, he said Robinson deserves a shot, it just wasn’t going to be with Washington. This was a culture changing type of move. Robinson is still relatively young, and even though he showed signs of promise in his short time with the Wizards, it was the right thing to do.
2019 NBA Draft
Sheppard’s first real shot at constructing a roster was during the draft that happened not even two full weeks ago. The Wizards drafted Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura with the 9th overall pick, and traded cash to the Philadelphia 76’ers for G/F Jonathon Simmons and the 42nd pick. With the 42nd pick, the Wizards selected G/F Admiral Schofield from Tennessee. Reports have suggested that Washington will not bring in Simmons, who is guaranteed $5.7M if not waived by July 8th. Washington will still be responsible for $1M in dead money.
Hachimura was a very safe pick for Washington and that may or may not pan out. It’s way too early to tell. The most we can do is let these guys play and that extends to Schofield. Our very first look at these guys in action will be early July in Summer League.
After Grunfeld had casted out draft picks like it were a hobby, it was refreshing seeing the Wizards buy into the second round. With John Wall’s extension kicking and Bradley Beal’s max still on the books, the Wizards needed cheap roster fillers. Hopefully Schofield can provide quality minutes for the Wizards, at least during his expected 3-year deal with the team, which I have been told he will receive.
Wizards Acquire Three Younglings
On the 27th it was announced the Wizards were the third team in the Lakers-Pelicans deal that will send Anthony Davis to Los Angeles. The Lakers wanted to clear some cap space so they could afford another max player to pair with LeBron James and Davis. Sheppard acquired Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones for $1.1M that will go to New Orleans.
The Wizards were interested in Wagner during last year’s draft process, but they opted to take Troy Brown Jr. instead. Wagner, a stretch five, will be a welcomed addition to the team and could potentially become a nice 1-2 punch off the bench with Thomas Bryant leading the way. Bonga, a 6’8″ point guard, will be a nice developmental project for Washington. He does have a guaranteed year for 2019-20, but he does have a team option after the season. Bonga will need to work on… well… everything. Jones has a non-guaranteed hit of $1.45M in 2019, but they can waive him and only be responsible for $199K. Jones was recently credited by Clippers’ guard Lou Williams on Gilbert Arenas’ latest podcast.
😂 Lou Williams talking about trying to score on the Lakers Jemerrio Jones.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 26, 2019
While these are all boring grades, they have all been very low-risk, high-reward moves that don’t cost the Wizards anything. Robinson likely was never going to play a huge role in Washington, Hachimura and Schofield all have nothing but good things being said about them (not to mention they’re talented), and they received three young players, including a former first round pick, for $1.1M. These all sound like wins to me.
Though Sheppard has done a solid job so far in his short time in charge of basketball operations, it doesn’t warrant extending an offer to Sheppard for the full-time gig. Let him do his thing in free agency and let’s see how the year plays out. Offering Sheppard the job isn’t going to make DC a more desirable place to play. It’s up to the players and coaches to put it all together. Keeping Tommy Sheppard on the interim tag for a year won’t hurt the Wizards. Leonsis really needs to be 100% sure when he hires the next decision maker. He needs to make sure he’s going about it the right way – with patience.