JUNKIES: WaPo's Ava Wallace weighs in on the Wizards' hire of Clippers GM Michael Winger


It appears as if the Wizards finally have their man, reportedly hiring Clippers GM Michael Winger as the new president of Monumental Basketball, which runs the Wizards, WNBA Mystics, and G League’s Capital City Go-Go – and making him the man who will hire a GM-type to run basketball ops for the Wiz.

Thursday morning, Ava Wallace of The Washington Post joined The Junkies to discuss the rumored hire, which kept her up into the wee hours of the morning and has since been officially announced by the team.

“That title, president and GM, was thrown around a little bit, because in order to interview a lot of GMs around the league, you have to say they’re being interviewed for a promotion,” Wallace said. “I didn’t realize it was going to be this overarching role, which isn’t all that uncommon in the NBA – Winger worked for one in LA with Lawrence Frank – but it will be flipped in Washington where Ted Leonsis wants him to hire to someone to run the Wizards roster, while the other staff will report to Winger.”

That sort of new structure for Monumental Basketball is different from other NBA teams, though, because of the scope of Winger’s responsibilities.

“Usually, those president/GM roles around the NBA don’t usually also run the WNBA and/or G League teams, too, so that’s a little different,” Wallace said.

So, what does Winger bring to the table in this new role?

“He’s really well-regarded in a deep Clippers front office that works really well together, and he was often described to me as the smartest man in the room,” Wallace said. “One of the reasons Ted Leonsis really liked him is that he has a lot of experience dealing with superstars – if you can handle the thorny situation that was Kawhi Leonard, you can handle anything. And, he’s a lawyer, who worked in general counsel with the Thunder, so he can work contracts and negotiating rooms, and he’s just a really sharp guy.”

Winger and Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon are the only two names known to have interviewed for a spot in the Wizards’ front office, and now one is hired – so will Winger move just as quickly to find and hire that GM to run the Wizards day to day?

“I’m curious to see the timeline – on one hand, I think he might have some leeway, because he’s capable of working the Wizards’ draft room and free agency, because he’s deciding the direction of the team,” Wallace said. “On the other hand, you never want to wait long if you’re deciding on a new direction of the team, because you want to be aggressive. Sooner rather than later is better, but they still have a lot going on at Monumental, and he has to move his life across the country.”

Wallace wouldn’t be surprised if Langdon is still a candidate to be the actual GM, as he’s technically the No. 2 in the Pelicans’ front office despite the title, but there may be some other avenues, too.

“I’d be interested to see about some good up-and-coming assistant GMs, maybe some guys who work under Sam Presti in Oklahoma City,” Wallace said. “I think that’s where I would start my search – either guys who have a natural connection with Winger, or are those hard-charging up-and-comers.”

Step one for whomever it is, however, might be deciding Bradley Beal’s future – a sticky situation given his contract and no-trade clause, but one that likely didn’t give Winger any second thoughts.

“I do not think that gave him any pause, because people in Winger’s spot are usually chomping at the bit to run their own organization,” Wallace said, “and, you have to think about how long Beal has been here, and does he want to go through another reset? I’m sure Winger will be in touch with his people soon, and Beal I think understands his situation – he’s not an unreasonable guy, and I can’t imagine him putting his foot down and making crazy demands.”

So, then, would Beal be willing to waive his no-trade, potentially for specific locations?

“I think Brad is very content and has shown his commitment to the city, which was important to him, but unless they made some very interesting moves, I’d find it hard to believe that after 10 years in Washington with nothing remotely resembling a title, Beal wouldn’t think he might be interested in some other places,” Wallace said. “He’s a reasonable guy who understands how the league works, and I don’t think anyone could say he didn’t give it the old college try.”

Wallace also weighed in on the situations with Kristaps Porzingis’ and Kyle Kuzma’s player options and coach Wes Unseld Jr., and how Winger’s hire may affect their future – take a listen above!

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