Wizards hire Pat Delany, Joseph Blair, Mike Miller and Zach Guthrie as assistant coaches

The Washington Wizards announced today the hiring of Pat Delany, Joseph Blair, Mike Miller and Zach Guthrie as assistant coaches on Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr’s staff.

“We have assembled an experienced staff that brings a diverse background of all aspects of coaching from NBA head coaching experience, G League head coaching experience, advance scouting and video coordination,” said Unseld. “We’re excited to get to work and implement our systems and philosophies heading in to training camp. Mike Miller will serve as the head coach of our summer league team as we have begun to install our principles.”

Delany brings 20 years of basketball experience to the Wizards, having last served as an assistant coach for the Orlando Magic (2018-2021) and Charlotte Hornets (2014-2018) under Steve Clifford. Prior to his stints with Orlando and Charlotte, Delany spent the 2013-14 season as the head coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA G League, where he led the Skyforce to a 31-19 record. He also spent 11 seasons with the Miami Heat, including six seasons as advance scout (2007-2013), four as video coordinator (2003-2007) and one as a video intern (2002-2003). Delany started his NBA career as a video intern for the Boston Celtics (2001-2002).

Blair begins his first season with Washington after spending the 2020-2021 season as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Prior to joining Minnesota, he spent the 2019-2020 season as an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers. Before his career as an NBA assistant coach, Blair spent four seasons (2015-2019) with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Houston Rockets G League affiliate. After serving three years as an assistant, he was named team’s head coach (2018-19) and led the Vipers to the 2019 G League title over the Long Island Nets. He also spent two seasons as an assistant at his alma mater, the University of Arizona (2013-2015). Prior to coaching, Blair played professionally from 1996-2009 that included stops in France, the USBL, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Russia. He played four years collegiately at Arizona, where he was a key member of Arizona’s 1994 Final Four team. Following his collegiate career, he was drafted with the 35th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by Seattle.

Miller comes to the Wizards bringing roughly three decades of coaching experience with him. Miller spent the 2020-2021 season as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the 2019-2020 season as an assistant with the New York Knicks before he assumed the role of interim head coach in December 2019. Prior to joining the Knicks, Miller spent four years as the head coach of the New York Knicks’ G League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks (2015-2019), where he won G League Coach of the Year in 2018 and led the team to the G League Playoffs in three of his four seasons as head coach. In his four years with Westchester, Miller guided the Knicks to an 108-92 (.540) overall record. He also spent two seasons as an assistant with San Antonio’s G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs. Prior to coaching at the professional level, Miller spent time as the head coach at Eastern Illinois University (2005-12) and Texas State University (1994-00). He has also served as an assistant coach at the collegiate level for UC Riverside (2012-13), Kansas State (2001-05), Texas State (1992-94), Sam Houston State (1990-91) and Western Illinois (1989-90).

Guthrie joins Washington after spending the 2020-2021 season with the Dallas Mavericks. Prior to Dallas, Guthrie spent five seasons (2015-2020) as a member of the Utah Jazz organization, with the last four serving as an assistant coach. Guthrie also served as the manager of advanced scouting for the Orlando Magic (2012-2015) and was the assistant video coordinator for two years with the San Antonio Spurs. He began his career as a basketball operations intern with the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League in 2007 where he worked under coach Quin Snyder.

In addition to the assistants listed above, the Wizards have retained assistant coaches Ryan Richman and Dean Oliver. The team has promoted Alex McLean to assistant coach/Director of Player Development, with Landon Tatum, Mike Williams, and Ryan Lumpkin returning to the player development staff. Eric Sebastian will return as Director of Coaching Operations.

Wizards vs. Pacers August 8 summer league game postponed

The MGM Resorts NBA Summer League game scheduled for today at 8 p.m. ET between the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols.

Because of ongoing contact tracing within the Wizards, the team does not have enough available players to proceed with tonight’s game against the Pacers.

Five-team NBA trade sends Russell Westbrook to Lakers, Spencer Dinwiddie and Kyle Kuzma to Wizards

The Washington Wizards announced yesterday that they have acquired guard Spencer Dinwiddie from the Brooklyn Nets; guard Aaron Holiday, the rights to forward Isaiah Todd and cash considerations from the Indiana Pacers; and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell from the Los Angeles Lakers in a five-team trade.

Washington sent guard Russell Westbrook and second-round picks in 2023, 2024 and 2028 to the Los Angeles Lakers; forward Chandler Hutchison and a 2022 second round pick to the San Antonio Spurs; and a 2024 second-round pick along with the right to swap second-round picks in 2025 to the Brooklyn Nets. As part of the trade, Indiana acquired the rights to Isaiah Jackson, who was selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Brooklyn also received the rights to 2015 first-round pick Nikola Milutinov from the Spurs as part of the deal.

“It takes a special mentality of competitiveness to take on the role of point guard for The Los Angeles Lakers,” said Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka. “We have seen some of the all-time greats master that role here, and now Russell Westbrook gets to come home and do just that. This is a very proud day for our franchise, and we are incredibly grateful. We welcome Russell and his family to Lakers Nation.”

“We were clear as we moved into the offseason that we would be aggressive in making moves that would improve our defense, shooting and athleticism,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. “Starting with hiring Coach Unseld, then moving to the draft and the acquisition of these five players via trade, we feel confident that we have made significant progress in those areas.”

“Each player that we acquired in this trade addresses a need for us in addition to bringing experience, toughness and a winning attitude that makes them ideal fits around Bradley and the rest of our returning roster,” said Sheppard. “Spencer’s athleticism allows him to score and make plays for others with Aaron’s hard-nosed style off the bench making a complementary pair of point guards. Kyle and KCP are proven three-and-D players with significant championship experience while Montrezl’s energy and effort personify the way we want to play every night.”

Dinwiddie (6-5, 215), who comes to Washington in a sign-and-trade deal, has appeared in 320 career games (133 starts) with the Pistons and Nets, and holds career averages of 12.9 points, 5.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game. In five seasons with Brooklyn, Dinwiddie averaged 14.3 points, 5.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 274 games (132 starts) and posted career-highs in points (20.6 ppg) and assists (6.8 apg) during the 2019-20 season. The Colorado product appeared in only three games during the 2020-2021 season, after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn ACL he suffered on December 27, 2020 (he has been cleared for all basketball activities since June).

Originally selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, Caldwell-Pope (6-5, 204) holds career averages of 11.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists and 29.1 minutes per game in 606 career games (464 starts) with Detroit and Los Angeles. The 6-5, 204-pound guard, has shot .370 percent or better from three-point range in three of the past four seasons and shot a career-best .410 from three-point territory last season.

Last season, the eight-year NBA veteran averaged 9.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 67 games (all starts) for the Lakers. Caldwell-Pope was an integral part of the Lakers 2020 NBA Championship team, where he averaged 12.8 points per game in the Finals against the Miami Heat.

A fourth-year forward, Kuzma (6-10, 221) holds career averages of 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 276 (146 starts) with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Flint, MI, native, has averaged at least 12.0 points and four rebounds per game in every year of his career, joining Jayson Tatum and Lauri Markkanen as the only players from the 2017 NBA Draft class to post these averages in all four seasons.

During the 2020-21 season, Kuzma averaged 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and a career-high 1.9 assists in 68 games (32 starts), while shooting .361 percent from three-point range on 5.6 attempts per game. Last season, the Utah product reached double-figures on 45 occasions, scored 20+ points 13 times and totaled 13 double-doubles. Selected with the 27th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Lakers, Kuzma was selected to the All-Rookie First-Team.

Harrell, 6-7, 240, has appeared in 387 career games (26 starts) across six seasons with the Houston Rockets (2015-2017), Los Angeles Clippers (2017-2020) and Los Angeles Lakers (2020-2021), averaging 12.8 points on .616 percent shooting, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 21.2 minutes per game. In 69 games (one start) with the Lakers last season, he averaged 13.5 points on .622 shooting, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.

The former Sixth Man of the Year (2019-20) has averaged 10 or more points per game the past four consecutive years while making five or fewer starts in those seasons, joining Jordan Clarkson as the only players to do so since the 2017-18 season.

Holiday, 24, has averaged 7.7 points, 2.4 assists and 1.7 rebounds, while shooting .372 percent from three-point range in 182 career games (41 starts) over three seasons with the Indiana Pacers. The 6-0, 185-pound guard averaged 7.2 points and 1.9 assists in 66 games (eight starts) during the 2020-2021 season.

Drafted with the 23rd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Holiday posted career-bests in points (9.5 ppg), assists (3.4 apg) and rebounds (2.4 rpg) during the 2019-20 season.

Washington also acquired Isaiah Todd on draft night, who was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 31st overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Todd, a 6-10, 210-pound forward, played for G League Ignite in its inaugural season in 2020-21, averaging 12.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in 16 games (three starts).

In one season with Washington, Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and a league-leading 11.7 assists per game in 65 games (all starts), the fourth career season he has averaged a triple-double. The 13-year guard became the NBA’s all-time triple-double leader on May 10, 2021, after passing Oscar Robertson’s 181 triple-double record. He concluded the regular season with 36 straight double-doubles and a league-best 38 triple-doubles.

Hutchison, who was acquired by Washington in a three-team trade on March 25, 2021, averaged 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 18 games (one start) with the Wizards last season.

“Russell was a tremendous leader for us and watching him make history while with the Wizards was a privilege for me, our players and our fans that none of us will ever forget,” said Sheppard. “The impact he made on our franchise and our players in just one season is remarkable and we wish him the best as he continues his Hall of Fame career. We also appreciate Chandler for the work he put in during his time with us and extend him our encouragement as he progresses in his development.”

Washington Wizards re-sign Raul Neto

The Washington Wizards have re-signed free agent guard Raul Neto.

Neto averaged a career-high 8.7 points, to go along with a career-high 2.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and a career-high 1.1 steals per game while shooting .468 from the field in 64 games (22 starts) during the 2020-21 season. As a starter last season, he averaged 11.4 points, 3.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game while shooting .495 from the field and .403 from three-point range. He scored a season-high 25 points (7-of-11 from the field, 5-of-7 from three-point range) in the Wizards’ 131-129 win over the Raptors in Tampa on May 6.

“We are very pleased to bring Raul back after the career year he had for us last season,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. “He was one of our most consistent players with a toughness and tenacity on both ends of the floor that allowed him to lead our second unit and step in when called upon as a starter.”

Neto was originally signed as a free agent by the Wizards on November 21, 2020. During the 2019-20 season, he averaged 5.1 points and 1.9 assists per game in 54 games (three starts) with Philadelphia. Before signing with the 76ers, Neto spent his first four seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz (2015-19). Neto averaged 4.8 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 14.2 minutes per game with Utah. As a rookie in 2015, he appeared in 81 games (53 starts) and averaged a career-high 5.9 points and 2.1 assists per game.

Neto was selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round (47th overall pick) of the 2013 NBA Draft, and his rights were traded by the Hawks to the Jazz in a draft-night trade in exchange for a 2015 second round pick (from Brooklyn) on June 27, 2013. Prior to coming to the NBA, he played professionally in Brazil and Spain from 2008-15. During the 2014-15 season, he appeared in 34 games (23 starts) for Universidad Catolica De Murcia (UCAM) of the Liga ACP in Spain, averaging 8.9 points, 3.9 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 22.4 mpg.

A native of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Neto competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games as a member of the Brazilian National Team.

Wizards and Lakers discussing a Russell Westbrook trade

Russell Westbrook, and the triple-doubles that he provides, could be on the move. Via the OC Register:

As we approach the 2021 NBA draft, which begins at 5 p.m, reports about possible deals abound. The Lakers are reportedly in talks for a deal that would bring Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles.

USC forward Evan Mobley will be among the NBA draft prospects expected to hear his name called early Thursday evening. The former Rancho Christian High big man is a potential top-three pick and has impacted winning at all stops in his career

Per ESPN.com:

Los Angeles Lakers are nearing a deal with the Washington Wizards to acquire Russell Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 2021 draft pick, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Harrell has opted into his $9.7 million player option for next season, paving the way for the potential deal.

Washington Wizards name Wes Unseld Jr. new head coach

The Washington Wizards have named Wes Unseld Jr. as the franchise’s new head coach. Unseld Jr. becomes the 25th head coach in the organization’s history.

“Wes is one of the most highly-regarded assistant coaches in the NBA and clearly separated himself from the large and diverse group of candidates we considered,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. “His strong record as an in-game tactician along with his attention to detail on both sides of the ball combined with his reputation for player development and outstanding character during his 20+ years of coaching left no doubt that he was the best choice to guide our team to the next level.”

Unseld Jr. comes to Washington after spending the past six seasons in Denver, including this past season as the Nuggets’ associate head coach. Under his guidance, the Nuggets finished fifth in the West in opponents points per game during the 2020-21 season and 11th overall in defensive rating (while finishing sixth overall in offensive rating). During his six seasons in Denver, the Nuggets finished at least 10 games over .500 four times (including a 54-win season in 2018-19) and have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons.

“I want to thank Tommy and Mr. Leonsis for the opportunity to lead this talented team both on and off the court and to continue moving the franchise in a positive direction,” said Unseld Jr. “Becoming a head coach in the NBA is a goal that I have pursued my entire adult life and to have that dream realized by coming full circle back to Washington is truly special. I look forward to representing the DMV, connecting with our fans and establishing a new standard for Wizards basketball.”

Unseld Jr. was instrumental in both developing Nikola Jokic into the lowest-drafted MVP in NBA history and the year-to-year improvement of Jamal Murray as one of the top young guards in the NBA. He also helped develop several mid-first round and second round picks into important contributors during his time in Denver.

“Tommy was very thorough during our search and the intelligence, information and recommendations he had gathered on Wes were exceeded by how impressive his preparation and planning were during the interview process,” said Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO and Washington Wizards Governor Ted Leonsis. “We are excited to bring him on board and see those attributes in action with our players and in the community with our fans.”

Prior to joining the Nuggets, he spent two seasons (2012-14) as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic (where he worked with Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo during the early stages of their careers) and one season (2011-12) with the Golden State Warriors (where he worked with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson during the early stages of their careers).

Unseld Jr. returns to Washington after beginning his career with the Wizards as an advance/pro scout in 1997. He would continue in that role through 2005, while also serving as an advance scout for the Mystics for three seasons (which included a stint as an assistant coach in the 1998 season), before being promoted to assistant coach for the Wizards in 2005. During his six seasons on the Wizards bench, Unseld Jr. was instrumental in game planning and player development and was largely credited with the success of the Wizards’ offensive game plans, with the team posting four consecutive playoff appearances (2005-08) and three straight top 10 offensive finishes (2004-07).

Unseld Jr. played collegiately at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and played high school basketball at Loyola High School in Towson, MD. He is the son of franchise legend/Hall-of-Famer Wes Unseld Sr., the greatest player in franchise history and one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

Team USA guard Bradley Beal will no longer play in 2021 Tokyo Olympics

USA Basketball Men’s National Team guard Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), who was placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols Wednesday, will remain in health and safety protocols and will be unable to participate in the July 23 through August 8 Tokyo Olympic Games. A roster replacement will be named at a later time.

Beal was named to the U.S. Olympic Mens Basketball Team on June 28, and participated in the USA Basketball National Team’s training camp and exhibition games in Las Vegas. Starting in the USA’s first three USA exhibition games, Beal averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds while playing 29.0 minutes a game.

Out of an abundance of caution, USA Basketball Men’s National Team member Jerami Grant has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols, USA Basketball announced Thursday afternoon.

Search for new Wizards head coach begins

The Washington Wizards coaching search has begun. Via the Washington Times:

As word quickly traveled that the Washington Wizards were parting ways with Scott Brooks, general manager Tommy Sheppard’s cell phone started to light up. There was no shortage of suitors who were already expressing interest in the team’s coaching vacancy, he said.

“I’m getting bombarded,” Sheppard said.

Perhaps Sheppard was trying to quell concerns or hype up the franchise given that there are five other teams in search of a new coach. But after moving on from Brooks following five seasons, one thing is clear: Sheppard will get to choose who he feels is best for the franchise after inheriting Brooks upon his front office promotion in 2019.

This will be Sheppard’s first coaching hire, and he could go any direction with it. For example, does he want an experienced veteran to lead stars Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook? Or does he prefer an up-and-coming candidate who might be better equipped if the Wizards are forced to take a sudden change of direction? Sheppard could even look to make history, leaving open the possibility the team could hire the league’s first woman head coach.

The Wizards core awaiting the next head coach includes Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal in the backcourt, and Davis Bertans, Rui Hachumura and Thomas Bryant in the frontcourt, plus promising rookie guard Deni Avdija. All are signed at least through next season.

Scott Brooks out as head coach of Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards announced today that they will not extend the contract of Head Coach Scott Brooks.

Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard will begin a search for a new head coach immediately.

“We have been committed to taking the proper steps over the last two seasons to develop our young players, bring in pieces to complement Bradley Beal and build a winning environment that will ultimately lead to sustained on-court success,” said Sheppard. “Our organization will always be grateful to Scott for his dedication and work both on the court and in the community over the past five years and I personally admire and respect how he helped keep our team together during the unprecedented events of the last 15 months.”

Brooks was originally signed as the team’s head coach on April 26, 2016. He compiled an overall record of 183-207 (.469), ranking him fifth overall in total wins in franchise history.

Russell Westbrook is now the NBA all-time leader in triple-doubles

Russell Westbrook has become the NBA’s all-time triple-double leader by tallying the 182nd of his career tonight at Atlanta – a record that has stood for 47 years, one month and 16 days since Oscar Robertson’s 181st and final triple-double of his career.

In games where Westbrook records a triple-double, his teams are a combined 136-45 (.751), including the Wizards’ current 21-14 record, where they have won 13 of their last 16 games with a Westbrook triple-double. His 182 career triple-doubles are also more than 26-of-30 NBA franchises, with only the Lakers, Kings, Celtics and Thunder (including Westbrook’s with the franchise) having more. Westbrook recorded 138 of his triple-doubles as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the most in their franchise history. Westbrook is also the franchise leader for Washington (36) and broke Darrell Walker’s franchise record of 15 in just 38 games with the Wizards.

A link to a video tribute created by the Wizards featuring NBA and Monumental Sports & Entertainment luminaries as well as Westbrook’s family can be found here.

Westbrook recorded his first career triple-double on March 2, 2009, during his rookie season, a 17-point, 10-rebound and 10-assist outing against the Dallas Mavericks. Through the first six years of his career, Westbrook tallied just eight triple-doubles but has since recorded 174 in the last seven years, including an NBA-record 42 during the 2016-17 season. Westbrook has four career seasons with at least 25 triple-doubles, the most in league history, and also averaged a triple-double in each of those four seasons (which are four of the five seasons in NBA history where a player averaged a triple-double).

Westbrook’s single-game triple-double accomplishments include two games with 24 assists (January 10, 2019 and May 3, 2021), tied with Rajon Rondo and Isiah Thomas for the most assists in a triple-double. On May 3 of this season, Westbrook added 14 points and 21 rebounds to his career-high-tying and franchise-record-tying 24 assists to record his second career game with at least 20 rebounds and 20 assists, the only player in league history with multiple such games. On April 2, 2019 vs. the Lakers, Westbrook scored 20 points with 20 rebounds and 21 assists, becoming the second player in NBA history to record a 20-20-20 game along with Wilt Chamberlain. Overall, Westbrook has five career triple-doubles with at least 20 assists, the most in league history. On March 29, 2017 at Orlando, Westbrook scored 57 points with 13 rebounds and 11 assists for the second-highest scoring triple-double in league history (Harden, 60). His career-long and league-record streak of 11 games with a triple-double came from January 22 to February 14, 2019, the only 10+ game streak in league history.

With 182 triple-doubles in 940 games played, Westbrook has tallied a triple-double in 19.4% of his games played, the highest rate among the top 15 triple-double leaders. Since 2016-17, Westbrook has tallied a triple-double in 145 of 353, or 41.1% of his games played. Westbrook leads the league this season with 36 triple-doubles, the second-most triple-doubles in a single season in his career and the third-most in league history.