Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington spoke to Ted Leonsis on Thursday on the Wizards Talk podcast when they were at the Entertainment and Sports Arena at The Atlantic’s event on athletes and activism. The Mystics hosted that event and I’ll talk more about that this weekend in a separate post.
Listen to the podcast below:
Miller and Leonsis did talk about several topics on the Wizards, most notably their lengthy search for a new President of Basketball Operations.
- Leonsis doesn’t want to hire someone based on a couple two-hour interviews — Leonsis wants to take his time on hiring the right person to lead basketball operations. A two-hour interview isn’t enough to determine whether someone is the right fit, according to him. Though it wasn’t mentioned in the podcast, Leonsis didn’t hire Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault before the 2013 season until after meeting him several times over three weeks. That search also lasted several months when the Mystics were in a worse situation than the Wizards right now. Believe me, it was worse. A. LOT. WORSE. BACK. THEN.
- Expect more collaboration from the basketball operations staff going forward — In the interview, Leonsis said that Ernie Grunfeld was the only person who talked to him at length on basketball-related matters. He doesn’t expect that to continue when a new executive is hired now that he has had to be involved more day-to-day.
- Leonsis acknowledges past mistakes — The most notable? Without mentioning names, the 2016 NBA free agency period was something he’d like to take back.
- Expect more resource sharing going as well — The Mystics, Wizards and Go-Go share the same practice facility and many of the same staff members. Leonsis views this as an asset, not a drawback. I agree with him on this. He even suggested that Elena Delle Donne be the Wizards’ free throw coach because of her great form. And don’t be surprised to see the Esports team get nutrition and other health advice to improve their craft at playing video games. Esports is big folks.
- He’s getting daily updates on John Wall — We’ve already shown a glimpse of Wall working out, but Leonsis doesn’t want him to rush.
- And finally, Ted Leonsis believes a Wizards NBA championship will be more significant than the Capitals’ Stanley Cup — I think everyone in the D.C. area’s really happy that the Capitals won the 2017-18 Stanley Cup and that Washington is a hockey town. However, Leonsis understands the city has a longer history with basketball and that the Wizards winning a second NBA championship would be bigger than the Stanley Cup. This isn’t meant to pit Wizards vs. Capitals fans, but the NBA is a more global league than the NHL. Heck, Toronto is now an NBA city!
Instead of me summarizing and giving my opinions on the podcast, I encourage you to listen to it at length. It should give you some insight on his thinking.