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After the Washington Wizards hired former Los Angeles Clippers general manager Michael Winger as their new team president last month, they’re likely to undergo some significant changes sooner rather than later.
According to The Athletic’s Josh Robbins, “many rival executives” around the NBA “expect Winger to undertake a full rebuild—if not this offseason, then within the next year.”
Winger inherits a Wizards team that hasn’t finished with a winning record since the 2017-18 season. Washington has missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons under head coach Wes Unseld Jr. and four out of the last five years overall.
While the Wizards face some significant offseason decisions, Winger told Robbins he hasn’t mapped out a gameplan as of yet.
“The raw, unfiltered truth is, I haven’t yet crafted the immediate vision for the franchise,” Winger said. “There are a lot of talented and high-character players on the team. I want to get to know them a little bit. The construct of a team isn’t just a matter of what is demonstrated on the court. It’s not just a matter of the box score. Team dynamics are personal, and I think that I need to understand those things before hatching an actionable plan.”
Winger will have to address the status of star shooting guard Bradley Beal, who is under contract for four more years at over $200 million and also owns a full no-trade clause. Forwards Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porziņģis both have player options in their contracts that they can decline to test unrestricted free agency this summer.
Despite the daunting decisions, Winger expressed an openness to keeping Washington’s core together:
“Then the question is, well, are you going to trade Brad? Are you going to keep Brad? I don’t know. I would like to meet with Brad. I haven’t yet met with Brad. What are you going to do with K.P.? What are you going to do with Kuz? I don’t know. They have choices. They have the power of choice, as does Brad. So, what I really want to do is I want to get to know these guys. If the visions align for being competitive and doing things the right way with a little bit of patience, absolutely there’s a path forward with them.”
However, Winger acknowledged that the Wizards likely won’t be contending for a title any time soon, so he understands it might be best for those players to continue their respective careers in situations where they could compete for championships.
“I don’t think we’re going to be an overnight title contender; that I’m pretty confident about. And so, if they would rather pursue immediate winning, then they probably do have to pursue that somewhere else,” he said. “But I think that there’s a very open dialog, a very open invitation to talk about the future of the team—the near-term future and the long-term future—and see where goals align and see where they don’t align.”