Under Sheppard’s watch, the Wizards have gotten significantly younger — as Washington let key veterans walk in free agency and added a number of young prospects (Rui Hachimura and Mortiz Wagner) through the draft and trades. Sheppard has also acquired multiple second-round picks as the Wizards look to retool in the years ahead.
Washington fired long-time general manager Ernie Grunfeld in April, following a disastrous season in which the team failed to make the playoffs. The team’s search to replace Grunfeld has been slow developing — with Washington even offering the job to Denver’s Tim Connelly, who turned the opportunity down. The Wizards were also reportedly interested in Toronto’s Masai Ujiri.
Despite the team’s interest in other candidates, Sheppard — Grunfeld’s No. 2 — had been overseeing day-to-day operations. Over time, he started to earn praise for his moves and basketball insiders noted that he wasn’t exactly the same as Grunfeld.
When Grunfeld was fired, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said Sheppard would be seriously considered for the job. Leonsis made a similar move in 2014 with his Washington Capitals — hiring Brian MacLellan, who served as the assistant GM to George McPhee.
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