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

Ted Leonsis got his hockey championship when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018. Now he’s reorganizing his basketball operations department in an effort to get the Wizards to the same point. 

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

The revamped organization will be led by Tommy Sheppard, who will serve as general manager of the Wizards after holding down the interim role since Ernie Grunfeld was fired April 2.

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

Former Cleveland Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown has been named chief planning and operations officer for Monumental Basketball, while former Georgetown coach John Thompson III will lead the organization’s athlete development and engagement department. Monumental also added Daniel Medina from the 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 longtime fixture in the Wizards front office, having worked there 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 2005-12. 

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 haven’t been nearly that hapless, mediocrity has been the rule since Leonsis, a former AOL executive, took control in June 2010 (he has owned the Capitals since 1999). 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 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.