By Shams Charania, David Aldridge, Josh Robbins and Law Murray
LA Clippers general manager Michael Winger has agreed to become president of Memorial Basketball, the parent company of the Washington Wizards, Mystics and G League Go-Go’s, league sources confirmed. The athletics on Wednesday. The news was first reported by ESPN. Here’s what you need to know:
- Winger replaces Tommy Shepard, who was fired as Wizards president and general manager in April, as the team’s top personnel executive. He also controls secrets and go-go.
- As first reported, Winger was the second known candidate to interview for the position, along with New Orleans Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon. The athletics.
- Winger has served in the Clippers GM role since 2017. Prior to working with the Lobb City Clippers, he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder under Sam Presti and the Cleveland Cavaliers under Danny Ferry.
- The Clippers have the winningest record in every season in front of Winger.
Athletics Quick analysis:
Why did Washington go in this direction?
Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis has been eyeing the Clippers as an organization to emulate, and he proved it by hiring big-spending GM Steve Ballmer as the new basketball boss. Winger has an analytical arsenal, working with Sam Presti in Oklahoma City before moving to Los Angeles in 2017 to replace Doc Rivers as the Clippers’ GM. He and Washington assistant GM Frank Ross will have a familiar face on board with the Wizards as they work together in OKC.
Winger prefers the background to being in front, say people who have worked with him. But he could be a good matchup with Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr., whose nightly game plan leans toward advanced stats. – Aldridge
How did Winger stay in Los Angeles?
When the LA Clippers shed leadership roles in the front office and promoted Lawrence Frank to president of basketball operations for the 2017 season, Frank had to fill the position. He did that by tapping Winger from the Oklahoma City Thunder front office. Frank has a coaching background with the Nets and Pistons as a head coach as well as teams such as the Rivers Celtics and Clippers as an assistant. Winger complements Frank as someone with front-office experience returning to Oklahoma City and Cleveland.
Frank and Winger’s partnership allowed the Clippers to transition from Lob City’s undefeated era to the current era with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Although the Clippers have won just three playoff games since hiring Winger, they have successfully reloaded to give themselves an unfinished title window.
The Clippers will move forward in exchange for Winger in what the team believes is a deep front office. This is a critical season. Teams continue to monitor coach Tyronn Lun’s status despite being under contract, Leonard has a torn meniscus, both Leonard and George are extension-eligible, and the team has a rapidly closing title window before entering the Intuit Dome in 2024. Now, they should. Imagine all without Winger. – Murray
After firing Sheppard, Leonis said he intended to fill the role with someone from outside the organization. The Wizards’ search for Shepard’s replacement is being led by the franchise and has input from key advisers, including John Thompson III, the team’s vice president of player development and engagement.
Washington went 35-47 in each of the last two seasons with Unseld as coach. The Wizards have made the playoffs five times since the 2013-14 season, but haven’t advanced past the first round since 2016-17.
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(Photo: Scott Tatsch/Getty Images)