Despite the Wizards’ bad reputation in recent years, Tommy Sheppard has been a key player in Washington’s rebuild. His ability to find young talent and connect with players around the league changed how we think of this franchise going forward.
The Washington Wizards had some ups and downs in their rebuild under the leadership of General Manager Tommy Sheppard. The franchise has been on a meteoric rise since his promotion to GM, making it one of the most exciting teams in recent memory with an elite backcourt consisting of John Wall & Bradley Beal.
The “tommy sheppard wizards salary” is the first sentence of this blog post. The rest of the article will go into detail about how Tommy Sheppard has helped revive the Washington Wizards franchise.
It’s much too soon to be discussing the NBA Executive of the Year Award. Of course, that won’t stop anybody from doing it in the first place. We’re voting for the NBA MVP for the next season less than a second after the previous season concludes. Pat Riley’s decisions have placed the Miami Heat in a position to compete for their second NBA Finals appearance in three years. But there’s one under-appreciated general manager who deserves credit for what Tommy Sheppard has accomplished with the Washington Wizards.
He took over as temporary GM in April 2019 after Ernie Grunfeld’s relatively unremarkable 16-year tenure came to an end. So there’s that. Grunfeld’s efforts took the Wizards through the first round of the playoffs four times. Sheppard landed the position full-time and has been rebuilding the organization in Washington, DC, ever since. This season’s results are beginning to emerge.
Tommy Sheppard traded a contract that couldn’t be exchanged.
Late in Grunfeld’s career, one of the most important choices he made was to sign point guard John Wall to a max deal. In 2019, a four-year, $170 deal was signed. For that first investment of $38.2 million in 2019–20, the Washington Wizards earned nothing from Wall. He missed the season due to injuries to his heel and Achilles’ tendon, which were worsened by a post-surgical infection.
Tommy Sheppard was able to find a buyer for the remaining three years and $132.9 million on Wall’s contract. It cost him a lottery-protected first-round selection in 2023, as well as the remaining three years and $132.6 million of Russell Westbrook’s contract.
Westbrook had the distinct benefit of being ambulatory. He also brought the benefit of playing, since $41.4 million is a hefty sum for a bystander. The Wizards won 17 of their last 23 games to qualify for the play-in round, led by Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. They defeated the Indiana Pacers to earn the eighth seed.
Sheppard wasn’t done negotiating throughout the summer, and his efforts are already paying off.
The Washington Wizards gave up a superstar in exchange for additional depth.
Tommy Sheppard sought to transform the Washington Wizards’ dynamic. So he shopped Westbrook and found a taker in the Los Angeles Lakers, who are constantly on the lookout for new talent. In a transaction that developed into a five-team Frankenstein of a trade, Westbrook headed to LA with three second-round selections.
The Wizards’ only other assets were backup guard Chandler Hutchison, who was traded to the San Antonio Spurs, and two second-round selections to the Brooklyn Nets.
In a sign-and-trade with the Nets, Washington received Spencer Dinwiddie, as well as Aaron Holiday and Isaiah Todd from the Indiana Pacers and a second-round pick from San Antonio. The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell were the major prize.
Coach Scott Brooks was likewise sacked by Sheppard after five mainly forgettable seasons. The Wizards replaced him with veteran NBA assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr., who has a long history with the team.
He started his coaching career with the Washington Wizards in 2005, then moved on to the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic, and Denver Nuggets, where he served as assistant head coach last season.
The new coach, the son of late Washington Bullets Hall of Famer Wes Unseld, has the Bullets off to a 6–3 start.
Dinwiddie has a 5.9 assist per game average to go along with 17.1 points per game. Both Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope start every night and play more than 30 minutes. KCP shoots 40.0 percent from three-point range for the team, while Kuzma averages 14.0 points and 9.4 rebounds a game.
Harrell, on the other hand, is playing like the former Sixth Man of the Year that he is. On 63.0 percent shooting, he’s second on the Wizards with 18.0 points per game and leads the club with 9.7 rebounds per game.
Under Tommy Sheppard’s leadership, the Washington Wizards have a superstar and a lot of depth.
For the first time in decades, the Washington Wizards are looking up thanks to Tommy Sheppard’s actions. | Getty Images/Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post
The Washington Wizards last moved beyond the second round of the playoffs in 1979, when they reached the NBA Finals. That happened the year after they won their one and only championship. Since then, DC has been a mediocre-to-awful conveyor belt.
That dynamic has shifted thanks to Tommy Sheppard. The Wizards have a superstar in Beal. But, for the first time in what feels like an eternity, Washington is combining that star with a strong rotation and genuine depth.
The Wizards are 6–3, and Beal is shooting 23.2 percent from beyond the arc. Given his historical shooting percentage of 37.4 percent, there’s a strong chance he’ll become hot soon. After a good tenure mostly as a sixth man in Brooklyn, Dinwiddie is the undisputed floor captain for a franchise.
Harrell? He’s starting to receive some playing time again. Harrell got lost in the mix with the Lakers, averaging only 22.9 minutes per game. His statistics plummeted, which was unsurprising. And Kuzma will have the opportunity to play without being compared to every Hall of Fame forward who has ever donned a Lakers uniform.
The Washington Wizards have spent the most of the past 40 years in the NBA as a joke. Tommy Sheppard puts them in a position where they may consider finally gaining the last laugh. You couldn’t ask for a better sleeper candidate for NBA Executive of the Year.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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Washington Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard has been credited with reviving the franchise. He was given credit for turning around the team and bringing them to their current position in the Eastern Conference. Reference: washington wizards record.
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