UPDATE: As expected, that didn’t take very long. The Wizards and Wes Unseld Jr. have reached a four-year deal to make Unseld the new head coach in Washington. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke this news, which was quickly confirmed by the team.
“Wes is one of the most highly-regarded assistant coaches in the NBA and clearly separated himself from the large and diverse group of candidates we considered,” Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “His strong record as an in-game tactician along with his attention to detail on both sides of the ball combined with his reputation for player development and outstanding character during his 20+ years of coaching left no doubt that he was the best choice to guide our team to the next level.”
“Becoming a head coach in the NBA is a goal that I have pursued my entire adult life and to have that dream realized by coming full circle back to Washington is truly special,” Unseld said in the announcement. “I look forward to representing the DMV, connecting with our fans and establishing a new standard for Wizards basketball.”
From the moment the Wizards and Scott Brooks went their separate ways, Wes Unseld Jr. was the name at the top of the board. It’s a story everyone loved, the son of a franchise legend returning to take over the reins.
From here, the two sides will begin contract negotations. Barring something unforeseen, a deal should be reached sometime this weekend.
While he has family ties to the Washington organization, Unseld paid his dues to become the next Wizards coach. He has worked for 15 years as an assistant coach in the league for the Wizards, Warriors, Magic, and most recently, he was a top assistant in Denver for Michael Malone. Unseld interviewed for a number of head coaching jobs in recent years, but this was the one where he fit the best.
Unseld has a reputation for his strong work ethic and player development, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Unseld replaces Scott Brooks, who will be on Chauncey Billups’ staff in Portland. Washington has superstars in Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, plus some solid players to go around them such as Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, and Davis Bertans. With that talent comes some pressure to both make the postseason and keep Beal happy.
Expect an official announcement in the coming days.