Bradley Beal answered a Denver heckler with the sassiest face possible Washington

Bradley Beal answered a Denver heckler with the sassiest face possible Washington

The Washington Wizards dismissed team president Ernie Grunfeld with one week remaining in their regular season in part, owner Ted Leonsis said, to get a headstart on their search for his replacement. They do not want to miss out on the top general manager candidates.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns have been at it for months already. Others could join in the coming days and weeks. All openings will have their positives and negatives.

Being competitive for the top candidates for such a job, though, is about much more than timing. The rising stars in the industry have some leverage, too. Some have the luxury of waiting for the perfect situation for them, knowing it is a major business decision. Many NBA GMs do not get second chances and very few get a third.

Leonsis insists that no list of candidates has been assembled and there are no favorites at this point. But when a list is made, inevitably some obvious choices will be discussed. 

Some will have to decide whether to leave good jobs with winning teams. And some of the biggest names out there have already made their priorities known when seeking openings in the past.

David Griffin, formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is linked to most GM openings these days. Gersson Rosas, the No. 2 executive for the Houston Rockets, is a common interview subject for teams looking for new front office leadership.

Both Griffin and Rosas, though, have shown how the right situation for some candidates with leverage can come down to control. Griffin, for instance, interviewed with the Sixers this past summer and talks broke down over the team’s preference for “collaborative decisions instead of a GM who will have the final say,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Rosas has been with the Rockets for 17 years, but left briefly in 2013 to become GM of the Dallas Mavericks. He resigned after only three months because he “wanted a greater share of control over Dallas’ basketball operations,” according to ESPN.

Others the Wizards zero in on may have the same goals as Griffin and Rosas reportedly hold. And that will be something to monitor as the Wizards conduct their search.

During Grunfeld’s tenure, just about everything stopped and started with him, according to people familiar with the team’s inner workings. There was a clear hierarchy up through the front office and he served as the sole conduit to ownership.

The barriers were so fortified that Leonsis says that despite being the Wizards’ majority owner since 2010, he rarely spoke to Tommy Sheppard, who served as Grunfeld’s No. 2 and is now his interim replacement.

“I’ve never spent quality time with Tommy,” Leonsis said when discussing his plans to interview Sheppard soon as a candidate to replace Grunfeld long-term.

Things, however, will change from how they operated under Grunfeld, according to Leonsis. 

“I would like a next generation, more collaborative environment where I can hear lots of voices,” he said.

That does not mean Leonsis wants to meddle in roster decisions. He said he will set big-picture “strategy, and vision and what the culture should be and [the] budget.” 

Leonsis will determine more specifics in the coming weeks as for how the Wizards can be more collaborative. He has plans to interview many members of the organization to find out what they can do better.

The level of control could be a sticking point for some candidates, depending on what Leonsis determines he wants to do with the Wizards moving forward. But he is confident the total package of his organization will be easy to sell.

Leonsis pointed to his willingness to spend money. Even after shedding salary with a series of midseason trades, the Wizards have the ninth-highest payroll in the NBA. They paid the luxury tax for last season and he would have paid it this year if they had come closer to reaching their goals. They also have a brand new practice facility, which he partly financed.

Leonsis also considers the city of Washington a plus, that the team can build its fanbase in one of the biggest and most diverse markets in the NBA. And he noted one major element that could entice any and all candidates. The Wizards showed with Grunfeld that they can be unusually patient.

Grunfeld lasted 16 years despite not once having a 50-win team or reaching the conference finals. Add in the fact John Wall will miss most if not all of next season due to a rupture Achilles, and the expectations will naturally be modest, at least in Year One.

“We are loyal if people are executing the vision and the culture and have output, they know it’s a fair and good environment,” Leonsis said.

That could be enough to set them apart from other teams seeking the same people to lead their front office. But in their interviews the idea of control is certain to come up.

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Published at Thu, 04 Apr 2019 13:47:31 +0000