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Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

Wizards GM search: Resetting the potential candidates

The Wizards general manager search reset needs a reset.

We head into the holiday weekend with the local NBA team still lacking a permanent front office leader. Zero reports of interviews of any kind since last week’s meeting with Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly.

At least we can cross off the idea of flirting with Portland’s Neil Olshey. The Blazers’ President of Basketball reportedly signed an extension one day after NBC Sports Washington reported interest from the Wizards.

For now, we wait, though be prepared for a hire any day – or not. At this point, here are the names to consider.

Tommy Sheppard – The Wizards VP of Basketball Operations began running the show on an interim basis following the firing of President of Basketball Operations on April 2. That he’s making the calls from inside the house, running the pre-draft process and showing a Wizards world with him in charge gives Sheppard an inside track over all other candidates.

To call him the favorite, however, might be a stretch at this point based simply on the fact that he has not been hired despite his in-house status. Sheppard is well respected around the NBA and league voices would tell frustrated fans they shouldn’t consider him Grunfeld 2.0.

Theory: If Sheppard gets the nod, the Wizards promote Go-Go general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu to serve as Sheppard’s number two and then promote the benefits of their G-League investment beyond player development.

Troy Weaver –The Thunder assistant general manager met with the Wizards twice. Weaver, long considered a rising front-office star, worked with Wizards coach Scott Brooks in Oklahoma City and flashed his recruiting skills at Syracuse when he landed Carmelo Anthony. The D.C. native still has ties to the area.

Danny Ferry – Like Weaver, Ferry met with the Wizards twice in Washington. Throughout the search process, multiple league sources told NBC Sports Washington that the former Hawks and Cavaliers general manager is the best candidate for the Wizards’ opening even over Connelly. The Hawks won 60 games during the 2014-15 season and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some question the strength of his candidacy based on any lingering controversy stemming from comments he made as Hawks GM regarding Luol Deng’s heritage in 2014, of which an independent investigation stated Ferry's intentions were not racially motivatedThis week former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. vouched for Ferry’s character on a local radio show.

Neither Ferry nor Weaver was likely to have heard back from the Wizards since Connelly’s involvement as of mid-week, according to sources familiar with the situation. Like the rest of us, they wait for news. 

Larry Harris – There’s no official reporting linking the Wizards to Golden State’s assistant GM. Washington and New Orleans both used the same consultant, Mike Forde, during their front office searches. Many of the same people have interviewed for both jobs. Harris, the former Bucks GM who joined the Warriors in 2008, met with New Orleans before the playoffs began.

That the Wizards appear patient with their search may suggest they are waiting for someone still in the playoffs.

Masai Ujiri – Speaking of an executive whose team is still in the playoffs… Ujiri’s Raptors are one game away from reaching the NBA Finals. NBC Sports Washington previously reported Ujiri showed interest in Washington. However, expectations of high salary demands and compensation from the Raptors for their President of Basketball Operations stunted any serious movement.

Bonus names -- Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton was part of the Wizards front office from 2003 to 2013. … Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren was deemed a candidate by the New York Times early in the process. One Boston-based source believes that Zarren would prefer remaining with the team he grew up rooting for rather than pursue most open GM jobs. … Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, another D.C. area native, just completed his third year with San Antonio. 

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Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks always has nice things to say about Bradley Beal, his star shooting guard. But on Thursday night's 'Wizards Greatest Hits' broadcast on NBC Sports Washington, he took it up a notch with his praise.

While speaking with host Chris Miller as they watched back the Wizards' Jan. 2019 win over the Knicks in London, Brooks shared some very high compliments of Beal.

"He is really one of the best players in the league," Brooks said. "All-around, not only at guard, he is one of the best players in the league. His game has improved so much over the past three years. He's getting better every year."

As they watched the fourth quarter of that Wizards-Knicks game, Brooks went on about how Beal can flip a switch during crunch time and how sometimes all it takes is a quick conversation between them.

"There are times where I need him to take over a game. I just say 'Brad, it's time,'" Brooks said.

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The best line from Brooks may have been when Beal not making the 2019-20 All-Star team came up. Brooks' coaching peers vote on the reserves and they famously left Beal out, which made for some history combined with his scoring average at the time.

Brooks wants to know from other NBA coaches: "If you don't think he's an All-Star, then why are you double-teaming every single time we play?"

If you get an answer to that question, Scott, be sure to let us know.

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The next 'The Last Dance'? Five sports stories we want to see

The next 'The Last Dance'? Five sports stories we want to see

It’s been just under a fortnight since sports fans joined together to relive the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls era of the 90s through ESPN's 'The Last Dance' documentary.

Through unprecedented access viewers were treated to an exclusive look at the Chicago Bulls' final NBA championship during the 1997-98 season.

So many memories were brought to the surface while many other unknown revelations left us all in awe. And like you, I couldn’t help but imagine some of the other sports stories I would love to receive the same treatment.

With that thought in mind, I present to you five of the best candidates for your consideration for their own #LastDance:

5. “The Dub” - The Birth of the WNBA

There was something major missing from professional sports 24 years ago: omen. As a remedy, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern took the most significant step for women’s professional basketball by founding the WNBA and providing a counterpart to the NBA platform to showcase the best basketball talent women’s sports has to offer. Led by players like Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo, and Sheryl Swoopes, the WNBA declared “We Got Next”, and has since gone on to deliver on that promise.

4. “Carolina Blues” - Duke vs North Carolina (Men's Basketball)

It’s impossible to tell the story of basketball, college basketball in particular, without mentioning the entire state of North Carolina; the Duke Blue Devils and UNC Tar Heels most notably. Only 10 miles separate the two programs that have combined for 11 national championships and produced countless NBA players. It’s not enough to ask why so many players attend these institutions. That’s easy. What really needs to be explored is how deep the rivalry between these two schools goes and how can they coexist while remaining in such close proximity. With so much competitive fire in a state with a population of 10.5 million, it’s inevitable that from time to time someone has to sing the blues while their rival hoists another trophy.

3. “Game. Set. Goat.” - The Legend of Serena Williams

Name another athlete as dominant as Serena Williams; especially within the game of tennis. Williams' accolades include 73 Singles Titles, seven Wimbledon Titles, Olympic Gold Medalist several times over, and that’s not even scratching the surface. From the courts of Compton, CA, all the way to the clay of the Australia Open, Serena has provided greatness at a level few have experienced, many have attempted, and all have witnessed. She’s in a class all to herself and yet has always maintained a never-ending fervor for athletic excellence; even against intermittently insurmountable odds. Regardless of the obstacles, she has persevered to this day to still be considered the GOAT. Period.

2. “The Patriot Way” - One Franchise; Six Rings

Winning and controversy go hand-in-hand. That’s to be expected; especially in sports. However, both of them have been at a fever pitch for the New England Patriots for almost two decades since their first Super Bowl Championship in 2001. When fate combines one of the greatest coaching minds ever with one of the most competitive athletes ever, it’s no mystery that their greatness yields some rather bewildering results, even if it means bending the rules from time to time. There’s no mistaking the fruits of their labor, but there’s also nothing wrong with peeking behind the curtain to get an intimate understanding of how things got done the Patriot Way!

1. “Diesel & The Mamba” - The End of the Shaq & Kobe Lakers 

On the road to three consecutive NBA titles in the early 2000s, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal entertained us with the most dominant basketball performance since MJ’s Bulls of the 90s. We knew they were great. We knew they had the great Phil Jackson as their coach. We knew they were having fun being young, rich and successful in Los Angeles. What we didn’t know is why these two all-time great players couldn’t keep their relationship intact long enough to possibly challenge, if not supplant, the aforementioned Chicago Bulls as the greatest dynasty in NBA history. If only…

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