Ian Mahinmi

Newly minted Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard quickly faces Bradley Beal questions

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While ownership danced with Tim Connley in Denver and Masai Ujiri in Toronto, Tommy Sheppard spent the past few months trying to clean up a mess of a Washington Wizards roster and, more importantly, their messed up salary cap situation.

There was only so much Sheppard could do considering John Wall‘s supermax extension kicks in next season (and runs four seasons) and the team will pay Ian Mahinmi $15.5 million. However, Sheppard got Washington below the tax number by trading Dwight Howard and letting three players — Tomas Satoransky, Bobby Portis, and Jabari Parker — just walk. He then tried to add inexpensive and interesting talent to the roster, such as Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans, and Moritz Wagner. It was all those moves that ultimately got the “interim” tag taken off his GM job title, reports Chase Hughes at NBC Sports Washington.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a “trial run,” according to a person familiar with the process.

However, the biggest test comes next Friday, and how Sheppard and Wizards ownership handle it will define the course of the franchise for years.

On July 26 (Friday), the Wizards can — and by all indications will — offer Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million contract extension.

Beal likely turns it down.

That’s the growing sense around the league. While part of his motivation may be questions about the future direction in Washington, there are also cold financial reasons to say no — Beal makes more money if he waits. Maybe even to the point of becoming a free agent in 2021. Our own Dan Feldman broke it down this way (future estimates based on salary cap projections by the NBA):

• Sign this 2019 extension: $111.8 over three years ($35.1 million per year)
• Make All-NBA next season and sign a super-max extension in 2020: $250 million over five years ($50 million per year)
• Become a free agent and re-sign with Wizards on regular-max in 2021: $214 million over five years ($43 million per year)
• Become a free agent and re-sign with Wizards on super-max in 2021: $250 million over five years ($50 million per year)
• Leave Wizards in 2021: $159 million over four years ($40 million per year)

Beal can afford to bet on himself and wait, he just turned 26 and has not had the kind of injury issues that would make him think he needs to take the security now (he has played 82 games each of the last two seasons).

How do Sheppard — and Wizards’ management — react when Beal says no is the question. That is the real test Sheppard faces.

Part of that reaction will be based on what Beal and his representatives say: Do they turn down the offer and say Beal wants to be traded?

Or, do they turn down the offer and say, “Beal wants to stay but will wait because he wants a super-max contract?” (Beal finished seventh in All-NBA guard voting, with the top six making the All-NBA, he is right on the cusp.) This may be the most likely option, Beal cannot get the super-max contract if traded.

If/when Beal turns the Wizards down, Sheppard’s phone will start ringing again with teams testing the trade market waters for Beal. There is tremendous interest in him from across the league.

How Sheppard handles those calls will start to set the tone for what is next in Washington. What the Wizards do with Beal — and John Wall, out for the season with a torn Achilles and already on his super-max — will define Wizards’ basketball for years to come.

Report: Wizards signing Ish Smith, signing-and-trading Tomas Satoransky to Bulls

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With John Wall sidelined a long time, the Wizards need a point guard for next season.

It won’t be incumbent backup Tomas Satoransky, who showed nice production and promise in Washington.

Instead, the Wizards will turn to Ish Smith.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Emiliano Carchia of Sportando:

David Aldridge of The Athletic:

I like Satoransky for the Bulls. They drafted Coby White but needed a veteran option. Satoransky deserved a shot to start somewhere, and he can hold that role as White develops. If White becomes ready in the next three years, the 27-year-old Satoransky can slide to the bench. Though he’s better at and prefers to play point guard, Satoransky can also sometimes play the wing with White in the backcourt.

Between Satoransky and Thaddeus Young (three years, $41 million), Chicago has added a couple quality veterans. The Bulls also traded for Otto Porter, another upgrade, during last season. If its young players – Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchinson – are ready to take the next step, Chicago could compete for the playoffs next year.

Will Washington? Bradley Beal is better than any Bull, but his supporting cast is lacking. Burdened by Wall’s, Ian Mahinmi‘s and Dwight Howard‘s contracts and trying to stay out of the luxury tax, the Wizards are on a tight budget.

Smith is a fine placeholder given the circumstances. He can run the offense provide a good presence in the locker room. Washington needs both.

But there are reasons he came cheaper than Satoransky. Smith became expendable to the Pistons when they got Derrick Rose. Smith, who turns 31 this week, is a speedster with an unreliable jumper. He doesn’t carry untapped upside, but for the stability the Wizards want now, he’s perfectly fine.

Washington also gets a couple picks for Satoransky, whom the Wizards probably weren’t keeping, anyway. That’s part of the leverage a team gets in restricted free agency.

Report: Tim Connelly rejects Wizards, staying with Nuggets

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Nuggets president Tim Connelly could have led the Wizards’ front office, worked close to his native Baltimore and presumably gotten a raise from his reported $2 million salary.

Instead, he’ll stay in Denver.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is a huge win for Denver and even bigger setback for Washington.

Connelly has put the Nuggets into a great position. They’re young and good in a combination rarely seen in NBA history. Connelly drafted Nikola Jokic in the second round then built around him a short time later. This season, Denver won 54 games and reached Game 7 of the second round with 24-year-old Jokic flanked by Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Paul Millsap.

More decisions always lie ahead – notably Millsap’s $30 million team option for next season. But the Nuggets’ core is already in place and mostly under team control.

The Wizards need far more work. John Wall‘s contract is arguably the NBA’s worst. Ian Mahinmi and Dwight Howard are also roadblocks. Several key players will be free agents this summer. If he makes an All-NBA team this season, Bradley Beal be eligible for a super-max extension – a tricky decision for the club.

It would have been great for Washington to entrust Connelly with all that. He has proven excellent at his job.

Troy Weaver, Danny Ferry or Tommy Sheppard might do well for the Wizards. But they’re candidates who offer far less certainty.

Report: Wizards offer top front office job to Nuggets’ Tim Connelly

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This should not be a surprise. The entire, deliberate process to find a new president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards seemed to be pointing this way.

The question now is, will he take the job?

Washington has offered its top spot in basketball operations to Tim Connelly, the man who has the same job in Denver and built that team into a rising threat in the West, reports the staff at the Athletic.

The Wizards have offered Nuggets president Tim Connelly their head front office job and are hopeful he will accept, sources tell The Athletic’s Shams Charania, David Aldridge and Fred Katz.

Connelly left the NBA Combine on Friday to travel to Washington for a meeting with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis… The offer is for four years, according to sources.

Connelly is a Baltimore native who started his basketball career with the Wizards, he reportedly considers it his “dream job.” However, he has strong ties in Denver, particularly with owner Josh Kroenke, plus he has built an impressive Nuggets’ team just starting to tap its potential.

What we don’t know from the report is how much money was involved. Connelly reportedly makes $2 million a season with his new Denver contract (just extended in February) and that is on the low end for successful presidents of basketball operations. Did Leonsis offer more, and by enough to lure Connelly away?

Tommy Sheppard has served as the interim GM and it’s been reported he could stay on as Connelly’s No. 2, if Connelly is hired. If Denver loses Connelly, it is expected GM Arturas Karnisovas would be promoted. 

Connelly, if he takes the job, will take over a team at a crossroads. It all starts with Bradley Beal, the Wizards best player, who has two more years on his contract and is eligible for an extension this summer. Do the Wizards want to extend his contract and build around him or trade him to jump-start the rebuild without him? Washington also is stuck with John Wall‘s anchor of a contract — a projected $171 million over the next four years for a player who is seriously injured — plus will be paying Ian Mahinmi $15.5 million next season and Dwight Howard at $5.6 million.

Report: Washington gets permission to meet with Denver’s Tim Connelly about GM job

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It was reported on Thursday that the Wizards were ramping up their pursuit of Tim Connelly, the president of basketball operations in Denver, to take the same position in our nation’s capital. He had long been Washington’s top target, but the team had to wait until Denver fell out of the playoffs.

It has, and now comes a report Denver has given permission to Washington to talk to Connelly, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly will meet with the Washington Wizards to discuss the franchise’s president of basketball operations job, league sources told ESPN.

Connelly, a primary target of the Wizards’ search, is expected to meet with Washington as soon as Friday, league sources said.

Connelly is a Baltimore native with strong ties to the mid-Atlantic region, and he also got his start with the Wizards, getting his front office start in the organization. Denver just gave Connelly a contract extension last February, but the Wizards are the one job Connelly would consider leaving Denver for and the team will give him that out if he wants it.

Also, Connelly reportedly makes $2 million a year, well below the going rate for an experienced and successful president of basketball operations. Washington owner Ted Leonsis may nearly double that salary.

This would not be a formal interview, but if Connelly is offered the job he is expected to take it.

Denver has another reason they are confident in letting Connelly talk to Washington, reports Wojnarowski.

The Denver ownership’s confidence in general manager Arturas Karnisovas’ ability to assume full control of basketball operations, if needed, also played a part in its decision to allow Connelly to hear out Washington owner Ted Leonsis, league sources said.

This sounds like a deal on its way to getting done. If so it would be a huge get for the Wizards, who are looking to fill the position held for 16 seasons by Ernie Grunfeld. Tommy Sheppard is serving as the interim GM and it’s been reported he could stay on as Connelly’s No. 2, if Connelly is hired.

Connelly, or whoever takes on that job, has some big decisions to make. That starts with Bradley Beal, the Wizards best player, who has two more years on his contract and is eligible for an extension this summer. Do the Wizards want to extend his contract and build around him or trade him to jump-start the rebuild without him. Washington also is stuck with John Wall‘s anchor of a contract — a projected $171 million over the next four years for a player who is seriously injured — plus will be paying Ian Mahinmi $15.5 million next season and Dwight Howard at $5.6 million.