Reports: Wizards to hire Clippers’ Michael Winger as new GM

Photo courtesy Los Angeles Clippers

Michael Winger has been at or near the top of the “when is someone going to give him his own team” list for a long time. A right-hand man to both Sam Presti in Oklahoma City and then the GM of the Clippers with Lawrence Frank, wherever he has gone his teams have won.

The Washington Wizards are giving him that chance.

Multiple reports have Winger about to be named the new president of Monumental Basketball, with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN breaking the news. What this means is he is now the guy with the hammer making decisions for the Wizards, as well as overseeing the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the Wizards’ G-League team, the Go-Go.

Winger deserves this job. He was with Sam Presti and the Thunder through the Durant/Westbrook/Harden years, then came to the Clippers and helped them transition from the Lob City era to the Kawhi Leonard/Paul George era. Winger has been a key figure in front offices that have put together winning and contending teams for years, and he is well-liked and respected around the NBA.

The Wizards had Ernie Grunfeld ensconced as the GM/president for more than a decade — even as his decisions left the team stagnant — and when he was pushed out owner Ted Leonsis kept things in-house with Tommy Sheppard. None of that has worked, the Wizards have missed the playoffs four of the past five years, and Leonsis wants a team that gets into the postseason.

The biggest question facing Winger is simply this: Will he be given the freedom and resources to make radical roster changes over the coming years, even if that means a rebuild to focus on the long term?

The buzz out of Washington is yes, but what happens when push comes to shove for owner Ted Leonsis? At his urging, this has been a franchise desperately trying just to be good enough to get into the postseason — one often thinking short term — rather than looking to build a sustainable threat and maybe a contender around an All-NBA level talent (when healthy) in Beal. Winger knows how to win, but will he be under orders just to make the playoffs, or can he reshape this roster into something more serious?

The Wizards are locked into four more years of Bradley Beal‘s five-year max deal — where Beal has a no-trade clause — and this summer with both Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis able to become free agents (both have player options and could be extended or re-signed by the team). Is a core Beal/Porzingis/Kuzma core what the Wizards want to build around, or is the idea to re-sign Kuzma and Porzingis to contracts that can be traded and start to flip this roster into something more than an okay playoff team if everyone stays healthy? In the short term, this team needs more shooting around its stars but operating as an over-the-cap team trades are more likely than signing free agents.

Washington also has the No. 8 pick in this June’s NBA Draft (plus a couple of second-rounders).

Winger has work to do, but this is a franchise with potential. And it’s his.

Embiid, Antetokounmpo, Tatum headline All-NBA teams


The Celtics stars have been rewarded for a strong regular season — and that will leave the Boston front office with some tough decisions in future years.

Meanwhile, Knicks and Grizzlies fans are up in arms that their guys got left off the teams.

Wednesday night the NBA released the All-NBA Teams. Always one of the most controversial awards, this year was no different, particularly at the guard spot. What follows is who made the All-NBA teams and their voting point totals (five points for a first-team vote, three for second, one for third). The votes were cast by a select group of 100 media members.


First Team

F. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee (500)
F. Jayson Tatum, Boston (484)
G. Luka Doncic, Dallas (403)
G. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City (407)
C. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia (474)

Second Team

F. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics (169)
F. Jimmy Butler, Miami (182)
G. Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland (349)
G. Stephen Curry, Golden State (188)
C. Nikola Jokić, Denver (364)

Third Team

F. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers (81)
F. Julius Randle, Toronto (125)
G. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento (144)
G. Damian Lillard, Portland (137)
C. Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento (147)

Here are the other players who received votes.

Center: Anthony Davis, Lakers (65); Bam Adebayo, Heat, (9); Kristaps Porzingis, Wizards (2); Brook Lopez, Bucks (1).
Forward: Lauri Markkanen, Jazz (49); Kevin Durant, Suns (35); Pascal Siakam, Raptors (15); Kawhi Leonard, Clippers (15); Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves (14); Jaren Jackson Jr., Grizzlies (11); DeMar DeRozan, Bulls (2); Mikal Bridges, Nets (2); Paul George, Clippers (1); Zach LaVine, Bulls (1); Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers (1).
Guards: Ja Morant, Grizzlies (44); Jrue Holiday, Bucks (39); Jalen Brunson, Knicks (23); Devin Booker, Suns (10); James Harden, 76ers (6); Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers (1); Trae Young, Hawks (1).

Some thoughts on the selections:

• Knicks fans will scream about Jalen Brunson being snubbed, but two points about that: 1) He finished ninth in guard voting, with Morant and Holiday in line ahead of him in snubbed guards; 2) Guard was BY FAR the hardest position to pick with way more deserving candidates than the six slots allowed.

• Next season, All-NBA will be a positionless vote (thanks to the new CBA) — if voters want more guards and fewer forwards or centers, they can do it. (For my money, having no positions is fairer and more representative of how the modern game is played. However, the decision will be no easier for voters and give fans plenty to argue about: Splitting hairs between the 14/15 best players next season and the 16/17th best will be brutal).

• Five All-NBA players this season would not have qualified next season because they did not meet the new 65-game threshold: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Jimmy Butler, LeBron James and Damian Lillard.

• Jaylen Brown is now eligible for the supermax extension this summer of five years, $295 million from the Celtics. While there have been rumors of him being restless in Boston, that’s 295 million reasons he will stay — and the Celtics have to pay up and keep him, at least for now (better to sign and trade him rather than let him walk for nothing).

• Jayson Tatum making All-NBA again means he will be eligible for a supermax extension in the summer of 2024, and by then the cost is expected to be five years, $318 million. With the new CBA coming down hard on teams more than $17.5 million over the luxury tax line, and this team on the verge of getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs, Brad Stevens and the Celtics front office have some hard questions ahead about what the core of this team looks like and if it needs to be retooled.

• Ja Morant missed out on $39 million by not making Third Team All-NBA, meaning he is not eligible for the supermax. The same is true for Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet of the Raptors, and Jamal Murray of the Nuggets (only Siakam of that group got any votes).

• Donovan Mitchell apparently thought he deserved better than Second Team.

• Luka Dončić is now the fourth player in NBA history with four First-Team All-NBA selections before turning 25, joining Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan and Max Zaslofsky (hat tip Tim MacMahon of ESPN).

Jaren Jackson Jr., Jrue Holiday headline NBA All-Defensive Teams


There is a bit of a changing of the guard with the NBA All-Defensive team — half of the 10 players named to the first and second teams are making their inaugural appearance on the team.

Meanwhile, some well-known faces — including the Defensive Player of the Year for each of the last five seasons — are not on the list.

Here are the official NBA All-Defensive Teams, which were announced Tuesday (players’ voting point totals included).

G. Jrue Holiday (Bucks), 192
G. Alex Caruso (Bulls), 125
C. Brook Lopez (Bucks), 181
F. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies), 195
F. Evan Mobley (Cavaliers), 132

G. Derrick White (Celtics), 99
G. Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies), 54
C. Bam Adebayo (Heat), 53
F. Draymond Green (Warriors), 89
F. O.G. Anunoby (Raptors), 81

Others receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) 60, Jaden McDaniels (Timberwolves), 40, Marcus Smart (Celtics) 35, Mikal Bridges (Nets) 33, Nic Clayton (Nets) 25, Jimmy Butler (Heat) 23, Joel Embiid (76ers) 15, Herbert Jones (Pelicans) 15, Anthony Davis (Lakers) 9, Lu Dort (Thunder) 9, Jaylen Brown (Celtics) 4, Matisse Thybulle (Trail Blazers) 4, Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves) 4, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder) 3, Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers) 3, Dejounte Murray (Hawks) 3, Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers) 2, Paul George (Clippers) 2, De'Anthony Melton (76ers) 1, Delon Wright (Wizards) 1, Patrick Beverley (Bulls) 1, Desmond Bane (Grizzlies) 1, Scottie Barnes (Raptors) 1, Kevin Durant (Suns) 1, Aaron Gordon (Nuggets) 1, P.J. Tucker (76ers) 1, Walker Kessler (Jazz) 1.

Here are a few thoughts on the results:

• Marcus Smart, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, finished fifth in guard voting and did not make the team. If you’re looking for the biggest surprise, that would be it.

• Neither did another DPOY in Antetokounmpo, who finished fifth in forward voting. He had more points than the second team center (Adebayo) or a guard (Brooks), but because the NBA sticks with positions for this award the Greek Freak misses the cut by one.

• Forward was the most challenging position for this award, Jaden McDaniels also deserved a spot on the team, but there could be just four forwards.

• It’s unusual that this year’s Defensive Player of the Year, Jaren Jackson Jr., was not a unanimous First Team choice (three voters had him on the second team, and if there were 100 voters one left him off entirely, although it’s possible only 99 media members voted for this award).

• Making the team means a little extra cash for Holiday and White.

• The five players making their first All-Defensive Team are Mobley, Caruso, White, Anunoby and Brooks.

• The player with the most appearances in this group? Draymond Green, who made his eighth All-Defensive team (four times first team).

NBA playoffs first round results, schedule, times and where to watch


The first round of the NBA playoffs can feel like it lasts forever — eight series running all at once, scheduled with multiple days between games as the league works to get what it believes will be the highest-rated games in prime slots for its broadcast partners. It can lead to an uneven start.

But once the drama of the playoffs kicks in — as it did this year on the opening weekend and has continued throughout — nobody is bothered. Well, except for the coaches, who are bothered by everything.

Here is the first-round NBA playoff schedule as we know it. This will be updated as the dates are finalized and the results pour in. All times are Eastern (* = if necessary).


#1 Denver vs. #8 Minnesota

1) Sun 4/16: Nuggets won 109-80 (Denver 1-0)
2) Wed 4/19: Nuggets won 122-113 (Denver 2-0)
3) Fri 4/21: Nuggets won 120-111 (Denver 3-0)
4) Sun 4/23: Timberwolves won 114-108 in OT (Denver 3-1)
5) Tue 4/25: Nuggets won 112-109 (Denver advances 4-1)

#2 Memphis vs. #7 L.A. Lakers

1) Sun 4/16: Lakers won 128-112 (Los Angeles 1-0)
2) Wed 4/19: Grizzlies won 103-93 (series tied 1-1)
3) Sat 4/22: Lakers won 111-101 (Los Angeles 2-1)
4) Mon 4/24: Lakers won 117-111 in OT (Los Angeles 3-1)
5) Wed 4/26: Grizzlies won 116-99 (Los Angeles 3-2)
6) Fri 4/28: Lakers won 125-85 (Los Angeles advances 4-2)

#3 Sacramento vs. #6 Golden State

1) Sat 4/15: Kings won 126-123 (Sacramento 1-0)
2) Mon 4/17: Kings won 114-106 (Sacramento 2-0)
3) Thu 4/20: Warriors won 114-97 (Sacramento 2-1)
4) Sun 4/23: Warriors won 126-125 (Series tied 2-2)
5) Wed 4/26: Warriors won 123-116 (Golden State 3-2)
6) Fri 4/28: Kings won 118-99 (Series tied 3-3)
7) Sun 4/30 at Sacramento, 3:30 (ABC)

#4 Phoenix vs. #5 LA Clippers

1) Sun 4/16: Clippers won 115-110 (Los Angeles 1-0)
2) Tue 4/18: Suns won 123-109 (series tied 1-1)
3) Thu 4/20: Suns won 129-124 (Phoenix 2-1)
4) Sat 4/22: Suns won 112-100 (Phoenix 3-1)
5) Tue 4/25: Suns won 136-130 (Phoenix advances 4-1)


#1 Milwaukee vs. #8 Miami

1) Sun 4/16: Heat won 130-117 (Miami 1-0)
2) Wed 4/19 Bucks won 138-122 (series tied 1-1)
3) Sat 4/22: Heat won 121-99 (Miami 2-1)
4) Mon 4/24: Heat won 119-114 (Miami 3-1)
5) Wed 4/26: Heat won 128-126 in OT (Miami advances 4-1)

#2 Boston vs. #7 Atlanta

1) Sat 4/15: Celtics won 112-99 (Boston 1-0)
2) Tue 4/18: Celtics won 119-106 (Boston 2-0)
3) Fri 4/21: Hawks won 130-122 (Boston 2-1)
4) Sun 4/23: Celtics won 129-121 (Boston 3-1)
5) Tue 4/25: Hawks won 119-117 (Boston 3-2)
6) Thu 4/27: Celtics won 128-120 (Boston advances 4-2)

#3 Philadelphia vs. #6 Brooklyn

1) Sat 4/15: 76ers won 121-101 (Philadelphia 1-0)
2) Mon 4/17: 76ers won 96-84 (Philadelphia 2-0)
3) Thu 4/20: 76ers won 102-97 (Philadelphia 3-0)
4) Sat 4/22: 76ers won 96-88 (Philadelphia advances 4-0)

#4 Cleveland vs. #5 New York

1) Sat 4/15: Knicks won 101-97 (New York 1-0)
2) Tue 4/18: Cavaliers won 107-90 (series tied 1-1)
3) Fri 4/21: Knicks won 99-79 (New York 2-1)
4) Sun 4/23: Knicks won 102-93 (New York 3-1)
5) Wed 4/26: Knicks won 106-95 (New York advances 4-1)

Clippers GM Frank: ‘We have to get back to honoring and respecting the regular season’


The Clippers evaluated their season, looked at their stars playing 38 games and less than 1,000 minutes together, followed by an injury-riddled and short playoff run — the fourth time in four years that run ended early — and decided…

They are going to run it back, looking to win with a Kawhi Leonard and Paul George core.

While that may sound like an episode of “Really ?!? With Seth and Amy” to people outside Clippers HQ, it’s what they see as the best path. They are too far down this road to pivot. If you needed proof running it back the plan, Clippers president Lawrence Frank made it clear speaking to the media Thursday. His focus was more on being a better regular season team next season and then carrying that momentum over to the playoffs. Via Law Murray of The Athletic.

“We have to be honest with ourselves, and we have to look in the mirror. It starts with me. And we have to get back to honoring and respecting the regular season.”

That includes having Leonard back by the start of the season. Frank confirmed a torn meniscus and that Leonard was evaluating treatment options, but with a garden variety meniscus tear even the longest recovery would have him back for the start of training camp. Although with Leonard’s knee, is anything ever garden variety?

Frank stuck with his respect the regular season theme. Here’s a longer quote, via Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times.

“I just think we need to compete harder every single night. I think we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the fans. We want to be a championship organization and we have to invest deeper into the process. I mean, the last 28 years, the NBA champion has been a top-three seed. So you have to earn it, the regular season matters. And not that our guys don’t think it matters, but I just think we, all of us, starting with me, we can compete harder every day. We can hold each other accountable every day. And that’s what we have to do…

“As a team, in terms of what our goal is, we can compete harder in everything we do. We know we can.”

Leonard and George are under contract for $45.6 million apiece next season with a player option the season after that. Both are extension eligible this offseason and it leads to the question of whether the Clippers would offer an extension that would give them an extension for two seasons beyond the ones they have, essentially locking in four-year, $220 million contacts. If the Clippers don’t extend, both could walk away after next season. With a new CBA coming in that heaps more team-building punishments on teams more than $17.5 million above the tax line (which the Clippers are and would be), the organization has some hard decisions to make about a future direction.

Those decisions include the players around Leonard and George. That starts with Russell Westbrook, who Frank said he wants to return. After his play with the Clippers, Westbrook likely will have options, but he said he liked his experience with the Clippers and being in his native Los Angeles.

The Clippers set up a lot of players on their roster with contracts in the sweet spots for trades between $10 million and $20 million a season — Norman Powell, Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac, Terance Mann, Marcus Morris Sr. and Robert Covington. However, how much demand there is for those players, outside Mann, is up for debate. Eric Gordon has a $20.9 million team option for next season, and while Frank said he would like Goron to return it is unlikely they pick him up at that number. Frank and company need to find a way to inject more youth and athleticism into their rotation, which will not be easy under the restrictions of the salary cap.

But they will try because the Clippers are running it back.

And this time they will focus more on the regular season.