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Wizards hire Sashi Brown as senior vice president in front office shakeup

Wizards hire Sashi Brown as senior vice president in front office shakeup

Though the Wizards pulled from within their organization to find a new general manager, the franchise is taking an outside-the-box approach to restructuring their front office. Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis looked all around sports in search for a high-level executive and it was in football where he found his man.

Sashi Brown, a former Cleveland Browns executive, now joins the Wizards as a senior vice president working with and in support of Tommy Sheppard, their senior vice president and general manager, NBC Sports Washington has learned. The two men will run separate groups under a new umbrella called Monumental Basketball.

The new vertical will include the Capital City Go-Go, Wizards District Gaming (the NBA 2K League franchise), the Mystics and a grassroots, local basketball program. Sheppard will oversee all of the pro teams, though the Mystics will have more autonomy under head coach and general manager Mike Thibault.

Brown will handle mostly strategic, big-picture duties. Sheppard will be the head personnel decision-maker and deal with players, agents and the coaching staff. Brown, though, will be part of the process in recruiting free agents and selling the Wizards' organization as a whole.

With Brown in the mix, the Wizards believe they can take the next step in investing in analytics, pro scouting and player development. There will be an acute focus on player wellness and personal development with a division led by former Georgetown University coach John Thompson III, a new hire, and Sashia Jones, who was promoted from the Wizards' marketing department.

The team is also adding an executive to its medical program. Daniel Medina, formerly of the Sixers and FC Barcelona, is coming on board to help with player health and training.

The Wizards will launch youth basketball initiatives, hoping to connect communities between the NBA, G-League, high schools and local leagues. Part of the thinking is the potential long-term benefits when the NBA Draft expands to include high school players. Wizards and Bullets alumni will be involved with those efforts.

Despite the fact Brown comes from the NFL, the Wizards' new dual front office structure is not uncommon in sports. Leonsis' Capitals operate in a similar way with Dick Patrick as team president and Brian MacLellan as senior VP and GM. They are setting it up so Sheppard focuses on basketball and others handle the rest. 

The Wizards' front office will now more closely resemble that of the Clippers and Raptors, which have larger staffs with specialized titles. There will be front office additions announced at a later date as the Wizards beef up their scouting and analytics departments. Leonsis envisions more communication between the front office and ownership within this new dynamic.

Brown, 43, worked in the Browns' organization from 2013 until he was dismissed in 2017. He joined them after working for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A Harvard Law grad, Brown will also provide the Wizards legal expertise. The Capitals have a similar situation with Don Fishman, one of their assistant general managers.

Brown leaves a complicated legacy behind in the NFL. He oversaw an aggressive rebuild by the Browns, one where they tanked to accumulate as many draft picks as possible, not unlike the Sixers did in 'The Process' with Sam Hinkie in charge. 

Like Hinkie, Brown was fired before that process began to bear fruit. Now the Browns are seen as a team on the rise under new leadership and how much credit Brown should receive has been up for debate. 

Brown helped lay the groundwork for the Browns. Now he will try to do the same for the Wizards.

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Charles Barkley jokingly admits he doesn't know anyone on the Wizards besides John Wall and Bradley Beal

Charles Barkley jokingly admits he doesn't know anyone on the Wizards besides John Wall and Bradley Beal

Without John Wall, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, Washington's three best players, the Wizards hopes of making the playoffs in the NBA's Orlando restart have taken a hit.

On Thursday, Wizards coach Scott Brooks joined the Inside the NBA team on TNT, where Charles Barkley genuinely asked him who has to step up for the team when the games begin.

Brooks' response was unexpected, yet also hilarious. Here was the exchange:

Barkley: "Obviously, without John and Bradley, your two best players, give us two names that really need to step up for you guys."

Brooks: "Well, I think we should play that game where you name two guys on our team besides those two guys." 

Barkley: "Let me tell you something, I don't know anybody on your team! So I want you to tell us two players on your team."

To Barkley's credit, much of the national media has not paid any attention to the Wizards this season. The team only had one game on national TV this season, a November clash with the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.

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When basketball does resume, the Wizards are six games back of the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot in the East. Washington needs to make up two games over the final eight contests in order to force a play-in game for the conference's final playoff spot.

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Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

The Washington Wizards have their first reported cases of coronavirus, as center Thomas Bryant and Gary Payton II have tested positive, according to the Washington Post.

The timing of the tests prevented Bryant and Payton II from traveling with the Wizards to Orlando, FL as they entered the NBA's restart bubble at Disney World. The team, however, is hopeful they can join them before long.

Head coach Scott Brooks first dropped a hint on Thursday night when addressing the media on a video conference call from Orlando.

"A couple of guys did not make the trip. Hopefully they will be joining us soon. But with the CBA medical [restrictions] I can't get into who did not participate," Brooks said.

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That suggested coronavirus was the likely reason. If it were another injury, he could specify just as they did with Bradley Beal days earlier when they explained why he wasn't going to play in the restart. A basketball injury also wouldn't prevent them from traveling.

Coronavirus generally stays in the system for 10 to 14 days. It is unclear when Bryant and Payton II contracted the virus, or when they tested positive. The Wizards' first exhibition game is July 22. They play their first regular season game on July 31.

Bryant and Payton II are the first cases involving the Wizards made public. It is not known whether any others have tested positive previously, as team officials have deferred to league statements on related matters.

There have been dozens of positive tests throughout the league in recent months, including some that shut down practice facilities.

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