By Jerry Wein
The Wizards fired general manager Tommy Sheppard on Wednesday after the team missed the postseason for a second consecutive season.
Sheppard’s dismissal comes less than two years after he received a contract extension in November 2021. Washington went 35-47 in 2021-22 and then posted the same record this season.
“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 said 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.”
Wes Unseld Jr. will return for his third season as coach, and sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that he continues to have a strong advocate with Leonsis.
The Wizards’ search for a new president and GM will commence as the only active search in the marketplace.
The Wizards signed star guard Bradley Beal to a max-value contract last offseason, but the team didn’t show any clear improvement. Early last week, Sheppard met with reporters to wrap up the season. After about a half-hour of fielding questions, he was asked whether he’d officially met with Leonsis to confirm that he’d be back. He seemed surprised by the question.
“Myself?” Sheppard said. “That’s never been part of a conversation.”
Sheppard said that day that the team hoped to bring back Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma, both of whom have player options. While the Wizards were clearly upset with how this season went, no major changes seemed imminent, but now it’s clear there could be a significant new direction.
Sheppard spent 20 seasons with the organization. He was vice president of basketball operations from 2003 to 2013 and senior vice president of basketball operations from 2013 to 2019.
He became the interim general manager when Ernie Grunfeld was fired late in the 2018-19 season, then had the interim tag removed. Sheppard’s tenure as GM was eventful. He traded John Wall for Russell Westbrook, then eventually dealt Westbrook away in the deal that brought Kuzma to Washington. Porzingis also came to the Wizards in a trade.
Through all of that, however, Washington hasn’t been able to shed its status as a borderline playoff team at best.
Washington has dismissed GM Tommy Sheppard, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 19, 2023