Since last Thursday, Wizards fans were hoping that the Wizards would contact Toronto Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri and offer him the chance to run the Wizards. Ujiri has built a championship winner in Toronto, and he possibly has former U.S. President Barack Obama’s ear.
But according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post on Tuesday evening, Leonsis said in no unclear terms that he never wanted to contact Ujiri. And he’s not interested in Ujiri either. Here’s an excerpt of a statement that Leonsis sent to the Post:
We have not commented on the many rumors surrounding potential candidates during this process, but I wanted to make an exception in this case out of respect to the Raptors organization as they celebrate their well-deserved championship. Any reports that we have interest in Masai Ujiri as a candidate are simply not true, and we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process.
Leonsis also mentioned that he had confidence in interim President of Basketball Operations Tommy Sheppard and Head Coach Scott Brooks heading to the NBA Draft. “ I don’t expect to make any decisions before the start of free agency,” Leonsis concluded.
So, there you have it. It appears that Tommy Sheppard is the de-facto President of Basketball Operations, except that he doesn’t have the title. If this is the decision that Leonsis has come to heading into the NBA Draft, then there is no reason for him NOT to give Sheppard the title of President of Basketball Operations or General Manager. As long as Sheppard doesn’t have that title, he’s always going to have some position of weakness compared to other teams.
And as for Masai Ujiri, the hope for his arrival felt good while those rumors lasted...