The Washington Wizards gave general manager Tommy Sheppard a contract extension and promoted him to team president Wednesday amid the franchise’s best start in 47 years. Sheppard will also retain his title of general manager as part of the deal.
The team also extended and promoted Sashi Brown, the former football executive who was given the new title of president of Monumental Basketball and special advisor to the office of the CEO at Monumental Sports & Entertainment.”
“Tommy (Sheppard) has effectively improved our team each year of his tenure by following the plan he laid out to us as his vision when we hired him as general manager,” owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement, “and Sashi has been instrumental in making us a leader in analytics, research and player engagement while efficiently streamlining operations across all of our basketball teams and venues.”
Sheppard is in his third season as the top basketball executive of the Wizards. He assumed the role full-time in July 2019, months after he took over on an interim basis after longtime executive Ernie Grunfeld in April. The Wizards are 69-88 in that span, but the record does not reflect the amount of progress the Wizards have made under Sheppard.
Most notably, Sheppard traded star point guard John Wall and a first-round pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook last season. That move was a seismic shift for the franchise — given it established Bradley Beal as the team’s primary star and had the franchise move on from an injury-riddled player with an expensive contract.
Westbrook helped get the Wizards back to the playoffs last season as the eighth seed. But come the offseason, Sheppard flipped Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers in a complicated five-team trade that landed Washington five legitimate rotation players in Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Aaron Holiday. The trade gave the Wizards depth.
Sheppard’s moves around the margins have been successful, as well. Last season, he landed starting center Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline for guard Troy Brown Jr. He also added contributors in Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant in low-risk trades.
“I am honored to represent this organization and tremendously grateful for the opportunity to continue building this team in order to use what we accomplish both on and off the court to uplift the community,” Sheppard said in a statement. “Our staff, and their dedication to working together, has been essential to our success, and we will continue to work hard, follow our plan and make our fans proud of the team we put on the floor.”
Brown will continue to oversee the research department he created upon being hired in 2019. He also is a liaison between the Wizards, the G-League’s Capital City Go-Go and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics — all owned by Leonsis and Monumental Sports. Brown joined the franchise after spending years in the NFL, where he was a football and business executive with the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Also on Wednesday, the Mystics gave coach and general manager Mike Thibault a contract extension.
• Matthew Paras can be reached at email@example.com.
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