Wizards fire Grunfeld as president after NBA playoff miss

Washington Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld (R) was fired Tuesday by the NBA club (AFP Photo/Ned Dishman)
Washington Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld (R) was fired Tuesday by the NBA club (AFP Photo/Ned Dishman)

Washington (AFP) - Washington Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld was fired Tuesday by team owner Ted Leonsis after the NBA club missed the playoffs for the second time in four seasons.

The Wizards are 32-46 with four games remaining in the current campaign and ensured of their worst season since 2012-13.

"We did not meet our stated goals of qualifying for the playoffs this season and, despite playing with injuries to several key players, we have a culture of accountability and a responsibility of managing to positive outcomes," Leonsis said.

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Tommy Sheppard, the Wizards senior vice president of basketball operations, will report to Leonsis in place of Grunfeld starting immediately as the team prepares to begin the search for a new basketball operations boss once the season ends next week.

Romanian-born Grunfeld, 63, oversaw Wizards basketball operations for the past 16 seasons, being hired prior to the 2003-04 campaign.

Under his direction, the Wizards went 568-724 and reached the playoffs eight times. They were ousted four times in the first round, including last year by Toronto, and four times in the second round, falling to Boston in 2017 after winning their first division title since their 1979 run to the finals.

As a player, Grunfeld was in the NBA from 1977 to 1986 with Milwaukee, New York and the Kansas City Kings. He became a US citizen in 1976, the same year he helped the Americans to a gold medal at the Montreal Olympics.

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