Wizards hire Tommy Sheppard as GM, add Sashi Brown to front office

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Former Cleveland Browns executive Sashi Brown will have a prominent role in a revamped Washington Wizards front office.
Former Cleveland Browns executive Sashi Brown will have a prominent role in a revamped Washington Wizards front office.

The Washington Wizards have hired Tommy Sheppard as general manager while former NFL executive Sashi Brown has also been appointed to a prominent role in the organisation.

Ted Leonsis, owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Wizards among other franchises including the NHL's Washington Capitals, announced a reorganisation of his basketball operations on Monday.

Leonsis revealed the formation of Monumental Basketball, a new collective with oversight of not only the Wizards but also the WNBA's Washington Mystics, the G League's Capital City Go-Go, and the Wizards District Gaming esports operation. 

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The revamped organisation will be led by Sheppard, who will serve as GM of the Wizards after holding down the interim role since Ernie Grunfeld was fired on April 2.

While Sheppard's promotion was reported late last week, a couple of other familiar names joining the group were revealed on Monday. 

Former Cleveland Browns executive vice president Brown has been named chief planning and operations officer for Monumental Basketball, while ex-Georgetown coach John Thompson III will lead the organisation's athlete development and engagement department. Monumental also added Daniel Medina from the Philadelphia 76ers as chief of athlete care and performance. 

"We have formed a new leadership team with a forward-thinking structure to adapt to the 'new NBA' that requires every possible strategic advantage to compete and win," Leonsis said in a release.

"We are building a leadership brain trust with deep Wizards/NBA experience and with sports professionals from inside and outside the NBA to challenge our thinking and adapt to an ever-increasing competitive environment."

While Sheppard is a long-time fixture in the Wizards front office, having worked there for the last 16 seasons, Brown is the name that likely will draw the most attention.

The Harvard-educated attorney previously worked as a lawyer in Washington before serving as senior vice president and general counsel for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2005 until 2012. 

The Browns hired him away in a similar capacity in 2013, and he was put in charge of the team's football operations in January 2016, lasting just under two years on the job before being fired near the end of the 2017 season. Cleveland went 1-27 during his tenure. 

While the Wizards have not been nearly that hapless, mediocrity has been the rule since Leonsis, a former AOL executive, took control in June 2010. The Wizards have missed the playoffs in five of the nine seasons since, but did finish first in the Southeast Division in 2016-17 before falling to the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs. 

Washington went 32-50 last season, losing star guard John Wall to an Achilles injury in late December and seeing marquee free-agent addition Dwight Howard play in only nine games due to back troubles. 

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