After 20 years in the Washington Wizards front office, general manager and team president Tommy Sheppard has been “relieved of his duties” by the franchise.
Wizards have announced they have fired Tommy Sheppard. Statement from Ted Leonsis: “Tommy Sheppard was relieved from his duties as GM and Pres. of the Washington Wizards. Failure to make the playoffs the last two seasons was very disappointing to our organization and our fans.”
— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) April 19, 2023
Sheppard joined the Wizards as the vice president of basketball operations under Ernie Grunfeld before taking over GM duties after Grunfeld’s firing in 2019 and being given an extension and the team president title in 2021. The Wizards have never been able to elevate themselves beyond the middle of the Eastern Conference during Sheppard’s tenure and have not finished a regular season above .500 since the 2017-18 season, making one playoff trip since then (a first round exit in 2021).
For years, the Wizards have chosen to retool rather than rebuild in spite of their general mediocrity. Bradley Beal is on a new supermax extension, which includes a no-trade clause, as they’ve chosen to keep Beal as the centerpiece and try to build around the former No. 3 overall pick. To this point, that hasn’t yielded the results hoped for and, coupled with not hitting on late lottery draft picks, the Wizards find themselves in one of the worst spots to be in as a franchise: stuck in the middle with little hope of moving up.
The question is, given the official statement cited the failure to reach the playoffs the past two seasons as the reason for Sheppard’s firing, will the Wizards be willing to go along with a larger rebuild to try and get there? Washington has never seemed keen on a full on teardown to try and build around a completely new core, but how much of that was Sheppard and how much was Ted Leonsis remains to be seen. We’ll find that out with who they hire and how they proceed, but this summer could get very interesting given some of the players on their roster other teams could have interest in.