Ava Wallace updates Kevin Sheehan on Wizards' ongoing GM search even after hiring Michael Winger


Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has reportedly agreed to a deal to make the current general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers, Michael Winger, the president of Monumental Basketball. But what does that mean?

The Washington Post's Ava Wallace spoke to Team 980's Kevin Sheehan to explain that while Winger has come to D.C. in the wake of general manager and team president Tommy Sheppard's firing earlier this offseason, the Wizards are still looking for somebody to fill the role of GM.

"They've created this kinda new role," Wallace said. "This s not Tommy Sheppard's replacement. This is the new president of Monumental Basketball." As, in addition to the Wizards, Winger's portfolio will include the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the G League’s Capital City Go-Go.

"So he is being tasked with, come in and asses some things and take a look and give us a new direction," Wallace told Team 980. "Especially for the Wizards, they need a new direction, an identity, kind of tell us where we're going here, and most importantly hire a new GM."

Wallace said Winger's background is as a lawyer and his reputation is that of a dealmaker, working with agents, and negotiating contracts, "so ideally he will hire a GM who can focus on the Wizards' on-court stuff and help him build a roster."

And the hire was a bit of a surprise to Wallace because it seemed to be a departure from the way Leonsis had operated the basketball team in the past. "Ernie Grunfeld was there for a long time and then Ted searched for three months... and we're gonna hire the interim who was Ernie Grunfeld's guy before then."

Winger brings a new set of eyes to an organization. However, the Post reporter said she remains "healthily skeptical because at the end of the day, there's still one guy signing off on those decisions, but I think it was the only way forward, honestly, at that point. Where you needed a big change to say 'We gotta get ourselves in line here, we really need to get on not just the right path but a path rather than just wandering around and building around Bradley Beal.' Which, to their credit, they tried, it just wasn't working."

This role is not that dissimilar to the way other teams in the league are structured, but the addition of overseeing the Mystics is not typical.

But, Wallace added, that the GM hired by Winger will be the one who is expected to make more of the basketball decisions. Of course, Winger will be setting the larger direction and coordinating that with Leonsis.

Overall there are two priorities for Winger: Hire a general manager and get the Wizards an identity. And that may lead to a conversation about what to do with Bradley Beal and his big contract and no-trade clause.

Sheehan and Wallace also discuss current GM candidates and the role of John Thompson III within the organization and what that could morph into under Winger. Listen to the full conversation in the player above.

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