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Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

The process took nearly four months, yet the Wizards ultimately didn't look far for their new general manager, as the team is removing the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard. The longtime NBA executive will now finally get a chance to run his own operation.

Sheppard may not have been the first choice among fans initially when it was announced he would fill in for Ernie Grunfeld, who was dismissed from his post as team president on April 2, but over the past few months he has acclimated himself well, showing in many ways he is prepared to lead a team as the top person in charge. He cleaned up the Wizards' salary cap situation as best he could, giving them some newfound financial flexibility beyond next season.

Sheppard did that while flooding the roster with young, cheap and high-upside players. And he did so by making some tough decisions, ones that helped demonstrate he can provide an organizational reset despite his role in the previous regime. 

Sheppard allowed Tomas Satoransky to walk in free agency despite being central in bringing him to the Wizards, first by scouting him overseas and then by convincing him to join the NBA ranks. He let Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker leave even though he was part of the braintrust that traded for them. And he traded Dwight Howard, again despite playing a role in bringing him to Washington.

Sheppard has operated with impartiality when the team needed him to. What he has done this offseason looks a lot like it probably would have if the Wizards had hired someone from the outside.

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.

Sheppard worked closely with the team's ownership group, giving them written proposals for his plans that addressed goals, budget and contingencies. It was a collaborative effort to make the Wizards' roster younger, cheaper and harder working. They also set out to add more international players and accomplished that by drafting Rui Hachimura and by trading for Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga.

Sheppard impressed Leonsis especially during the effort to re-sign Thomas Bryant. Bryant has become a favorite of Leonsis' for his consistent effort, character and enthusiasm. Sheppard and the Wizards were able to agree with Bryant on a new contract the night free agency began. It was quick and painless.

Sheppard himself will be signing a new contract, NBC Sports Washington was told. And there will be major changes to the organizational structure announced this coming week. In the basketball operations side, the team will heavily expand their investment in analytics, by "triple" according to a person familiar with their plans. They will also beef up their scouting department with an eye on Africa and Latin America.

Sheppard has done a nice job for the Wizards but the real work in many ways about to begin. Dismantling an NBA roster is not as difficult as building a contender. Now he has to find pieces to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal that can help the team win something of substance. 

Sheppard will have to do that within the constraints of Wall's supermax contract. And he will have to sort out Beal's future, which could take a turn later this month. 

On July 26, the Wizards can officially offer Beal a contract extension worth approximately $111 million over three years. But there is a long list of clues that suggest he will not take the offer.

How Sheppard, Beal and the Wizards handle the fallout in the event he turns them down would be a test in itself. Maybe they spin it simply as Beal betting on himself. If he makes All-NBA next season, he could make well over $200 million with a five-year supermax.

For Sheppard, the hard work is about to start. He is set to guide the Wizards into a new era, one he and the team hope can reach a higher peak than the last.

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Wizards, Mystics have discussed turning Capital One Arena into a place to vote

Wizards, Mystics have discussed turning Capital One Arena into a place to vote

With a growing list of NBA teams offering their arenas as presidential polling places for this November's election, members of the Wizards and Mystics are hoping the same can be done in Washington with Capital One Arena.

Wizards center Ian Mahinmi said there have been discussions on the matter among Wizards and Mystics players, as well as members of the front office. He mentioned several by name: Bradley Beal, Natasha Cloud, Ish Smith and LaToya Sanders, a group he described as leading the charge on using the teams' platforms to create social justice change.

"This is something that we have talked about and that would be amazing," Mahinmi said.

RELATED: MANY WIZARDS PLAYERS PLAN TO WEAR SOCIAL JUSTICE MESSAGES ON BACK OF JERSEYS

Voting rights and awareness has become a central issue for Mahinmi, who is originally from France. He has been studying social justice matters worldwide and feels voting can create necessary change in the United States. Mahinmi has been motivated, as many have, by recent events such as the death of George Floyd in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis.

"I think it's our job to provide a platform and to help the people that are lacking space and time to do and exercise their right. When you look around the country, across the country, and what's going on as far as the ability to vote, providing this for the people would be such a great move. I think it would be the right move for our organization," Mahinmi said.

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Mahinmi said recently he plans to wear the word 'vote' on the back of his Wizards jersey when NBA games return in Orlando. The league is allowing players to replace their names with nessages centered around social justice.

Clearly for Mahinmi, it's about more than a slogan. He, his teammates and his friends from the Mystics are looking to take action.

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Report: Bradley Beal among group of investors trying to buy New York Mets

Report: Bradley Beal among group of investors trying to buy New York Mets

Nationals-Mets games could take on a different meeting someday soon, as Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal is reportedly among a group of investors trying to buy the New York Mets.

Beal, 27, was listed with a large group of athletes and celebrities headlined by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez in a report by ESPN about the investor group. Former NFL star Brian Urlacher and current Nuggets player Mason Plumlee are some of the others.

This is surprising on several levels and one is because Beal is a devout fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. He has supported them publicly even through some of their playoff battles with the Nationals, despite the fact he plays in Washington, D.C. The Mets, of course, are division rivals of the Nats.

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Beal, though, loves baseball and has money to invest. He has already made over $100 million and just in his NBA salary. That does not include endorsements and other business ventures.

Beal is also due to make another $100 million on his current contract and has the potential to earn much more throughout the rest of his career. This may be an opportunity for him to make more money with an investment and be more involved with one of his favorite sports in the process.

According to ESPN, the group is awaiting word from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on what will happen next. Current Mets owner Jeff Wilpon is also weighing a larger offer from hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen.

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