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Ted Leonsis says changes will come to Wizards if team doesn't qualify for postseason

Ted Leonsis says changes will come to Wizards if team doesn't qualify for postseason

The Washington Wizards are pushing for a spot in the 2019 NBA playoffs. The main question for many is simple: What organizational changes if any are coming if they do not reach their goal?

Team owner Ted Leonsis received this query directly Thursday during a lengthy 1-on-1 interview with WTOP radio. More specifically, the questioner asked if severe changes are in the balance should Washington not qualify for the postseason.

“Yeah, definitely," Leonsis responded.

Leonsis passed on outlining any specifics with regards to the future of the primary non-player headliners, team president Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks, should the Wizards playoff dreams fall short. He did however shape some aspects of the organizational mindset both now with the Feb. 7 NBA trading deadline looming and should the team’s campaign end after the regular season.

“Well, we’d have to look at the entire organization whenever we don’t meet our goals to say ‘well, what happened?’ We have a no excuses mantra. Everybody knows that,” Leonsis said. “This is a business where you sit down and, as an owner you say, ‘What do I have to do to make the team and organization successful.

“I thought we did plenty this off-season. We’re certainly spending the money with our players. You can’t predict who will be in the lineup because of injuries. We also made big investments with the opening of our new training facility. …. My expectations are we’re going to make the playoffs and improve on last year.”

Focus on that last comment for a moment.

Making the playoffs won’t be easy, but it’s doable. Following Wednesday’s home win over the Pacers, the Wizards (22-29) moved into a ninth place tie in the Eastern Conference with the Pistons and within 2 ½ games of the eighth-seeded Hornets.

As for improving on last season, that’s trickier.

Washington finished 43-39, entered the playoffs as the eighth seed and lost a first-round series to the Toronto Raptors in six games. This marked the first time in four attempts with the same core group of players that the Wizards did reach at least the second round of the postseason.

Simply improving on last season already indicates a change in the stated preseason goal of at least 50 wins and reaching the Eastern Conference finals.

It's conceivable long-term injuries to three projected starters – Wall, Markieff Morris, and Dwight Howard – had reasonable minds downshifting on those loftier expectations. Yet the hefty payroll remains.

The Wizards have the seventh highest payroll in the league at $129.3 million and a luxury tax bill of $5.6 million. Only eight of 30 NBA teams exceeded the luxury tax threshold this season. Of those, only Washington is currently on the outside of the playoff picture.

Grunfeld, in his role as team president, a job he’s had since 2003, oversees the roster and spending. Leonsis passed on answering a direct question about Grunfeld’s job status, but weighed in on whether he is happy with longtime executive.

“I’m happy if we meet our goals,” Leonsis said. “If we don’t meet our goals we have to sit down and take stock on what do we have to do to improve do in the off-season.”

As for whether that could mean making changes with the front office leader and head coach, Leonsis said, “In pro sports every job is at risk every year. You really do use an offseason to take stock of what you do, but you do that by talking to the players, the agents, people within the organization, people at the league office. It’s not something you make light of.

“You have to remember when you’re a leader of an organization people want to know what is victory. What is that I have to do to move the organization move forward. You can’t be capricious. You can’t be emotional. You have to say here’s the plan. We sign off on the plan together.”

Leonsis reconfirmed his prior no tanking pledge, but opened the door for moves this season not involving the team’s highly paid trio of Wall, Beal and Otto Porter.

 “Now we’ll study should we rebuild, should we retool, can we still make the playoffs and make some trades. We’re not going to sleep on development of the team, but no we’re not tanking in hopes that we finish last in the league and have a couple of percentage points better chance of getting the top pick in the draft."

Despite all the various setbacks, the Wizards are playing their best basketball of the season. Washington is 9-6 in its last 15 games despite a shorthanded roster due to injuries.

“When you suffer injuries, but you’re in no excuses mode, you can’t fall back to woe is me. You have to go to the players, the coach, the staff and say do we have enough to make the playoffs. To a person I was told yes we do. There are 30 games left in the season. There’s injuries to other teams occurring now to. … I think we have to stay the course for this season.”

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Devils Backbone Brewing Co. partners with Wizards to create new ‘Full Court Press’ hard lemonade

Devils Backbone Brewing Co. partners with Wizards to create new ‘Full Court Press’ hard lemonade

Excited for the upcoming NBA season? A new beverage is making its way to Capital One Arena.

The Washington Wizards have announced they will be partnering with the award-winning brewer, Devils Backbone Brewing Company for the upcoming NBA season. 

Fans will now be able to purchase the Full Court Press Hard Cherry Lemonade exclusively at Wizards home games, located on the 400 level near section 429/430. The new Wizards-branded cherry hard lemonade will be available on draft and in 16 oz. cans. 

The Full Court Press will feature the Devils Backbone and Wizards logos, in addition to the team’s colors. The design will also include hash marks, a half-court circle to replicate a basketball court, and three stars to honor the District of Columbia. In an effort to generate excitement among Wizards fans, the lemonade's tagline is “Rep The District.” 

Devils Backbone Brewing Company has quite a reputation around the district. In the past, the brewery partnered with the Washington Redskins to create the #ATTR Ale at FedEx Field and this September it will launch the Capi-tale India Pale Ale with the Capitals. 

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Lakers reportedly showing interesting in ex-Wizards centers Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat

Lakers reportedly showing interesting in ex-Wizards centers Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat

With the search on to find some replacement depth following DeMarcus Cousins' ACL injury, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently evaluating all options and available players. In the group of potential matches, there's no shortage of players with D.C. ties.

First, it was center Dwight Howard who appeared on the radar. It was reported on Sunday that the Lakers were preparing to open up discussions with the 33-year old center. Howard, who played for L.A. during the 2012-13 season, only appeared in nine games for the Wizards last season while dealing with injury issues.

But, he's not the only former-Wizard in the discussions. A new report states that while the Lakers are preparing to host a workout for Howard, they will also potentially be giving Marcin Gortat a look, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gortat spent the 2018-19 campaign with the Los Angeles Clippers averaging 5.0 points per game and 5.6 rebounds in 47 games. Prior to that, he spent five seasons in Washington, proving to be a valuable asset at times. The 35-year old averaged at least 10 points and eight rebounds in four of his five years with the Wizards.

It's still relatively unknown who the Lakers will go with when it comes time to add depth, but there seems to be a good chance that a former-Wizard could be joining Lebron and company for the upcoming season. 

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