Last week, Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington first reported that the Wizards were looking to offer Toronto Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri a role that could include running Monumental Sports & Entertainment and an ownership equity stake.
So we decided to do a roundtable earlier this week. Since we did the roundtable, a lot has happened.
There were conflicting reports on whether the Wizards plan to court Ujiri in the near future. Late Thursday night, multiple reports claimed that the Wizards planned on offering up to a six-year, $60 million contract to Ujiri along with an ownership stake and other roles.
However, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post reported on Friday that this is not imminent.
Though such a move is not imminent, it is unclear whether the Wizards plan on getting to him sometime after the NBA Draft. This is a bunch of semantics, but considering that Tommy Sheppard isn’t the permanent President of Basketball Operations, the door doesn’t seem shut either.
Still, I wanted to show you all what the Bullets Forever crew thought of the news when it happened, since I started off by posing a question on Ujiri as a possible CEO of Monumental Sports, and we went from there.
Albert Lee: What do you all think of Ujiri as the CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment and Tommy Sheppard getting the permanent title of Wizards President of Basketball Operations?
Fim Oshin: They should go all in on Ujiri. Time is running out and Ted has to make a splash before critics start questioning him firing Grunfeld. *They already are but still*
Akbar Naqvi: I doubt if it’s a good business decision on Ted’s part but I also don’t really care. Everything I’ve heard about Masai makes me think he’s a natural leader and he’d be great to have at the head of any organization.
But if this is what it takes for him to control basketball operations in D.C., I am all for it.
Fim: I agree. This do or die for this organization’s future.
Albert: We know the positive consequences, Fim. But what does “die” mean?
Fim: Die means facing the consequences of not finding a GM in months.
Marcus Atkinson: Sounds like a nice idea, but the die part is what I wanted to get into. If they don’t get him, it seems like the only option is to make Tommy Sheppard the GM, which seems kind of backwards given how many people they considered instead of just hiring him all along.
This has been a colossal failure already. Unless Sheppard has truly been blocked out of personnel decisions this will have a feel of more of the same as opposed to truly fixing the front office issues.
Quentin Rosborough: That feels a bit like hyperbole to me, Marcus. I think Ted’s plan has been to keep Sheppard as GM and hire someone above him, be it Ujiri or otherwise. If he passes on the deal they should be able to find another President of Basketball Operations.
Kevin Broom: This rumor doesn’t sound all that promising for Wizards fans. Ujiri would be coming to D.C. to take a different job.
Based on interest and experience, he’d likely bring some value to the Wizards, but the title of President of MSE would entail much more than that, and the day-to-day would fall to Sheppard or whoever takes the position of Wizards president.
It would be good for Monumental to have someone like Ujiri at the helm, but I’m dubious about what it would mean for the Wizards specifically.
Akbar: I think that’s ultimately what Ted wants. He wants Ujiri at the top and guys under him running day to day and wants all of their input in the big decisions. Honestly if that’s the only capacity they can get him then I’d still take it. The team needs a culture change as much as they need a good scout, analytics or cap guy. Ujiri will bring that regardless.
Kevin: I hear you, but I’m unconvinced a real culture change can be led by someone who’s not part of the day to day. At my office, we brought in a new president to lead a culture change. It was a grind. Care and thought had to go into everything he did and said. Maybe Ujiri can do it with attention divided. I’m skeptical though.
Albert: I agree with you Kevin. Culture change can only truly happen when there is buy-in at multiple levels. I get the top-down approach, but a new executive has to be able to influence down far enough to be effective.
Ujiri could do that as the Wizards’ President of Basketball Operations. But as Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s CEO? That’s a different job altogether. In this case, he’ll have to give Sheppard enough distance to do what he can but provide a pointer here and there from his own experience.