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.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- Wizards newest addition: Michael Longabardi joins the staff
- He's earned it: Why the Wizards decided to make Sheppard their full-time guy
- No more interim: Sheppard named full-time GM