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The Washington Wizards have fired president Ernie Grunfeld after 16 seasons, team owner Ted Leonsis said in a press release Tuesday.
“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.
“I wish to thank Ernie for his service to the Washington Wizards. He and his family have been great leaders in our community and have worked tirelessly to make us a top NBA franchise.”
Vice president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard will take over for Grunfeld on an interim basis. The Wizards said in a news release that Sheppard will be a candidate for the position on a full-time basis.
Denver Nuggets president Tim Connelly is another name that has been linked to the Wizards.
“Connelly is from Baltimore, went to college in DC and worked for the Wizards for years before heading to Denver,” Fred Katz of The Athletic reported.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the position of head decision-maker for the Wizards will be coveted.
“Wizards ownership has been active in pursuing search firms to help with process for a new GM,” Wojnarowski reported. “The Wizards are an attractive job for potential candidates, largely because of resources and geography.”
He later added, “The biggest concern for potential candidates with Washington: How to engage on a rebuild with John Wall’s massive long-term contract and serious injury looming over franchise.”
According to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:
“Under Grunfeld’s watch, the Wizards never won 50 games in a season or advanced past the second round of the playoffs. Overall, the team went 568-724 during Grunfeld’s tenure, a win percentage of just .439.”