The Washington administration is ready to turn the franchise around and they are starting with the front office, as they announced this Wednesday that they are releasing General Manager and President Tommy Shepard from his duties with the Wizards.
The reasons for his discharge are mostly due to lack of objectives completed, as the club missed the playoffs for a second season in a row. The Washington team posted a poor 35-47 record in both last campaign and the current one.
The firing of Sheppard comes less than two years after he was awarded a contract extension back in November 2021.
Official: Tommy Sheppard relieved of his duties as General Manager and President.https://t.co/ljtLsF9Msx
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 19, 2023
“Failure to make the playoffs the last two seasons was very disappointing to our organization and our fans. A search for new leadership will begin immediately for an executive from outside the organization,” owner Ted Leonsis expressed in a statement.
“I would like to thank Tommy for his dedication to the Wizards organization and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” he concluded.
One of their strongest moves was to sign star guard Bradley Beal to a max-value contract last year, but unfortunately the results were the same. Just as the regular season came to an end, Sheppard recieved the press to wrap up the campaign, and the final question really surprised him.
One reporter asked if he had already met with owner Leonsis to talk about his return next season as GM.“Myself?” Sheppard asked in awe. “That’s never been part of a conversation.”
The former President limited his answers to say that he hoped to bring back Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis from their player options, but did not mention any other major changes which now seem like a must if they are to sail in a new direction.
Sheppard spent 20 years with the Wizards’ organization, first as vice president
20 years ago, Sheppard began his journey with the Washington club as the vice president of basketball operations for 10 seasons. After this, from 2013 to 2019, he upgraded his role to senior vice president of basketball operations.
Late in the 2018/19 campaign he became the interim general manager as Ernie Grunfield had been fired, as Sheppard endured an eventful first run as GM. His first actions were to trade John Wall for Russell Westbrook, only to send Westbrook away in the deal that brought Kuzma to the Wizards camp, same as Porzingis came in later also through a trade.
Another one of Sheppard’s significant actions as GM was to hire Wes Unseld Jr. as head coach back in 2020, as he has just ended his second season in front of the Washington franchise. However, none of this strategies has helped the Wizards case of becoming a playoff team, as they’ve struggled to qualify year after year.
Sheppard is yet to comment on his discharge after 20 years with the capital’s team.