Wizards president of basketball operations Michael Winger said he didn’t want to let this opportunity pass him by, but indicated he didn’t take the job just because.
“Seldom, I think, in pro sports do those opportunities come along where almost all of your boxes, if not all of your boxes, are checked,” Winger told Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “And this was I think the rare and supremely fortunate opportunity for somebody like me to check all the boxes: ownership, market, fan base, already a talented team.”
Winger had been serving as GM of the Clippers under team president Lawrence Frank since 2018. He was officially named head of basketball operations on Thursday.
As I wrote in a column on Winger and the Wizards, there’s lots of work to be done, plenty of big decisions to make.
“I just felt like if I’m ever going to challenge myself, now’s the time and (Wizards owner Ted Leonsis) is the right person,” Winger said, via Greif. “I think D.C. is the right fan base.”
Winger will have full control over the roster, though he intends to hire a top-level assistant to focus on scouting, as we relayed here. Before joining the Clilppers, Winger worked in the front office for the Thunder (2011-18) and the Cavaliers (2005-10).
As for the Wizards, he said he’s excited about star guard Bradley Beal and the possibilities that exist.
“His former coaches, his former teammates, they all have extraordinarily high regard for him, and he is unequivocally a superstar,” Winger said of Beal, via Greif. “The hardest thing to do in the NBA is acquire a superstar talent and it’s even harder to acquire superstar talent with his level of character. And so, I think it’s an extremely, extremely fortunate starting point. So to me, that’s really exciting to have somebody like Brad on the team.”
Meanwhile, not winning a championship in the four years that the Clippers had star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George served as his lone regret in LA, Winger added.
“I mean, certainly winning at the highest level would have been awesome,” he told Greif. “What else? That’s really it.”
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