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Wizards extend contract of GM Sheppard on heels of team’s fast start

Between Kyrie Irving's off-court controversy and James Harden's inconsistent play, 2021 has gone the way the Nets planned so far -- but SI's Chris Herring says not to worry about Brooklyn too much just yet.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said that the contract extension and new title for GM Tommy Sheppard was not because of the team’s fast 10-3 start that has the team on top of the East. It probably didn’t hurt, though.

Washington announced Wednesday that Sheppard got a multi-year extension and is now both president and GM of the Wizards.

“Tommy has effectively improved our team each year of his tenure by following the plan he laid out to us as his vision when we hired him as general manager,” Leonsis said in a statement. This was a decision based on continuity and all the work Sheppard had done since taking over for Ernie Grunfeld, Leonsis told Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.

“I am honored to represent this organization and tremendously grateful for the opportunity to continue building this team in order to use what we accomplish both on and off the court to uplift the community,” Sheppard said in a press release. “Our staff, and their dedication to working together, has been essential to our success, and we will continue to work hard, follow our plan and make our fans proud of the team we put on the floor.”

Sheppard has hit on a number of moves. The biggest was trading Russell Westbrook to the Lakers in a deal that brought real depth to Washington in the form of Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Sheppard signed point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. He also hired new coach Wes Unseld, which so far has looked brilliant.

The next step is keeping Bradley Beal, but that’s in the court of the free-agent-to-be. Sheppard put a four-year, $181 million contract extension in front of Beal — the most the Wizards can offer — but Beal is almost certainly not going to sign it. If Beal wants to stay in Washington he can get a five-year, $242 million contract from the Wizards next summer. That’s a lot more locked-in money.

When it comes time for Beal to decide, this 10-3 start and Sheppard’s work will help the Wizards’ cause.