Craig Hoffman was on the air live when the news broke: the Wizards are hiring Oklahoma City VP of Basketball Operations Will Dawkins to be their new GM, the No. 2 exec in the organization between Monumental Basketball president Michael Winger and newly-hired VP of Player Personnel Travis Schlenk.
But it was not as big of a news item as it could’ve been?
“Normally this would be a stop-the-show, full breaking news type of story – but we know Dawkins is not the most important hire,” Hoffman said. “Yes, the guy who will run the day-to-day operations of the franchise is an important hire, but we know Michael Winger is the No. 1 guy, who will have the most say in a Bradley Beal trade or something like that, so it’s a 7.5 or an 8 out of 10 in newsiness.”
Still, Hoffman loves what he knows about Dawkins already, especially as a hire for the Wizards.
“Dawkins is a guy who worked his way up in what I consider the best front office in the league – what they do is remarkable, because the Thunder have no help in terms of location in a small market by NBA standards,” Craig said. “It’s a real city, but certainly not New York or D.C. or Miami or L.A., or even Milwaukee really, so the fact they continuously create an organization that players keep talking great things about, is remarkable.”
And, his new boss is also his old boss, which is huge on multiple levels.
“Remember, Michael Winger, prior to his time with the Clippers, was with the Thunder, so these guys are familiar with each other,” Hoffman said. “You hear the Thunder is first-class in everything they do, from personnel to facilities, and there’s just a way of doing business that endears people to that organization. They make it the best place to be they possibly can, and have done a lot of winning, and the passion in the fan base creates an incredible atmosphere.”
OKC did reset in the post-Westbrook era, but they’re on the rise again, so Dawkins has seen what success and a successful rebuild look like, which will be big for the Wizards potentially…in more ways than one.
“I don’t know if this was even on the radar for Ted Leonsis, but there are the guys who traded Russell Westbrook, and it’s important to note what OKC and Westbrook meant to each other,” Hoffman said. “When Kevin Durant left, the vitriol towards him, their beloved hero, was extreme, which sports fandom can be sometimes. On the opposite side of the coin, the love was for Russ, and it was a group including Dawkins that said it was time to go, and ultimately traded him. They had to go to him and have that conversation, and say the best thing for the franchise was to trade him and reset, and made the move; it's a delicate conversation, one that will be even more delicate with Bradley Beal because of his no-trade clause."
And when it comes to the hires of Winger, Travis Schlenk, and now Dawkins? Exactly as Craig drew it up for an ideal situation weeks ago.
"I said that they should go to the front offices of the organizations that have been successful, find the No. 2 guy, and hire him," Craig reminded. "What they did was they took the No. 2 from the Clippers and OKC and the former No. 2 in Golden State who built the Hawks into a playoff contender...and hired all three of them. THAT, is a good offseason."
Listen to Hoffman’s entire monologue on the hire above.