LAS VEGAS -- As the Wizards move through their fourth month of searching for a long-term team president, Tommy Sheppard continues to operate the front office in the interim and, now that Summer League is nearing its end, the team's offseason is not far from being all wrapped up. Sure, there are over two months until training camp, but the draft is in the past, free agency has dwindled down and they do not seem to be entertaining any sort of trade market for Bradley Beal.
With Sheppard having already done so much, and by most accounts done fairly well, an assumption by many around the NBA has developed that he will ultimately be promoted to the full-time post. A common question was asked at the Las Vegas Summer League: after all he's done, why make the switch now?
NBC Sports Washington spoke to a collection of agents, executives and national media members for their take on the situation. Some are in the know, some were just speculating. But most believe Sheppard will and should get the job.
"He's a great guy and he's getting the opportunity now after being around a long time," ESPN analyst Mark Jackson said.
Jackson went on to explain how Sheppard can be differentiated from his predecessor, Ernie Grunfeld, whom he worked under for 16 years.
"You don't know until you really know. There are places where the assistant is empowered to make moves and then there are places where the head guy minimizes the work of the assistant. I don't know [the Wizards' situation]. But what I can speak on is that Tommy Sheppard is a veteran guy that has been around and has paid his dues," he said.
Most agents and executives polled for this story spoke highly of Sheppard, even those who advocated for others who are still in the mix for the job. One former executive said Sheppard's navigation of the salary cap long-term has been particularly impressive.
There were many who believe Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver should be the other favorite. One agent who represents a player on the Wizards theorized Weaver would be the biggest splash among fans. He is from D.C., a Redskins fan and has long wanted to run the Wizards.
Weaver at least until recently has been in limbo with the Thunder, as Sam Presti has rules against members of his organization continuing to work in the building while interviewing elsewhere. So, Weaver has had to sit out many major decisions. They just traded their two best players, Russell Westbrook and Paul George, for instance. It is unclear if he was involved in those.
That factor led to some comments in Las Vegas that the Wizards should get this thing over with. Perhaps the most widespread consensus is confusion over what the team is waiting for.
One agent revealed there was at least one mystery candidate early in the process that didn't get leaked to the media. That person then got another job elsewhere.
Even an agent who represents someone who interviewed for the Wizards' opening said they think the Wizards are going to promote Sheppard. Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis, though, continues to keep things close to the vest.
As for what it would look like if the Wizards did decide to go in a different direction from Sheppard, one executive had an interesting take. They said that technically the least difficult part of the Wizards' reboot is over.
Tearing down a roster as they have, letting free agents go, those require tough decisions but the real skill will be shown in how they build the roster back up. Finding tangible pieces to help construct a winner with John Wall's injury and contract looming will be the true test of their new-look front office.
Whatever the Wizards decide, one would think it has to be settled relatively soon. Then again, we've been saying that for months.
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