The Wizards introduced new President of Monumental Basketball Michael Winger and new General Manager Will Dawkins today at their introductory press conference. Both front office members took questions alongside owner Ted Leonsis, and spoke candidly about their hopes and desires for this team moving forward.
Here are some takeaways from their comments:
Front office has “full autonomy” to embrace a rebuild
“[We have] full authority to reset the team if that’s what we decide to do.” - Winger
Yet another example of Leonsis giving this front office free rein to construct this roster however they want. They won’t be looking over their shoulders at Ted or answering to his commands. It seems like Leonsis will finally step back and allow the true professionals to do their jobs.
For the first time in forever, a full rebuild is a genuine possibility. Having the ability to go in so many directions is a fantastic spot to be in as a Wizards fan.
Championships are the goal, not just making the playoffs
“The eventual expectation is that we’re gonna build a generational contender. There’s no excuse for the lone NBA team in DC to not be contending for championships. Eventually we’re gonna hoist a trophy here in DC.” - Winger
I’m starting with this quote because it was the most exciting one of the day. Gone are the days of pushing for the play-in and being happy about it. Winger makes it clear that he wants one thing and one thing only: An NBA Championship.
It’s just refreshing to hear our leader preach NBA titles instead of play-in berths.
Porzingis & Kuzma have to decide on their future before the Wiz do
“They’re principles of the team”
“[We will] get to know these guys and see where they want the team to go”
- Winger on the Wizards big 3 of Beal, Kuzma, and Porzingis
It seems like Winger will be patient and let these guys decide on their own. That first decision comes on June 21 when they can opt-in to their contracts for next season. The expectation is for both to opt-out, meaning they’ll become unrestricted free agents.
What’s important to take away here is that Winger won’t be catering to their every need. He’s basically saying: “Look, if you guys want to be here, let me know now so we can work with you. If not, the door is that way.”
With Sheppard, these guys would’ve been given blank checks. Now, with Winger in charge, there will be talks and negotiations before we proceed with handing out a lucrative deal.
Ted is willing to pay the luxury tax
"Yes, but we better have a really good team" - Ted on going into the tax.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) June 8, 2023
This is new. Leonsis has been hesitant to dip into the luxury tax in years past. However, in his defense, his rosters haven’t been good enough to win a title. It seems like Ted has his head in the right place though.
If Winger builds a true contender, Ted will go all-in.
If Winger decides to rebuild, Ted will fully support his decision.
All in all, this presser was a giant success. I loved everything that Winger and Dawkins had to say. They gave glowing reviews of each other, with Winger going as far as saying Dawkins is a “star” and was the first person he thought to hire.
It seems like we finally have a brain trust that understands what it takes to build a contender.
Today is a new day in Wizards basketball, and I’m here for it!