- - Sunday, June 16, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Nearly three months ago, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis declared that the vacant Wizards general manager’s job was “the best most important open job in all of sports.”

Since then, he has turned it into a whoopee cushion.

Here we are on the eve of the draft, more than 10 weeks after Transparent Ted had a long-awaited epiphany and fired Ernie Grunfeld, and the job is still open.

It’s been turned down by the one reported candidate so far — Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations, after Transparent Ted reportedly made Connelly an offer he could easily refuse, falling short of the five-year, $20 million deal he reportedly sought.

Connelly dismissed the pitch as a “conversation.” It was a futile attempt all the way around, a waste of time since Connelly was unlikely to take a job that his friend and mentor, Wizards senior vice president Tommy Sheppard, was a candidate for — especially after being low-balled.



Now, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that dropped seconds after the Toronto Raptors won the NBA title with their Game 6 victory over the Golden State Warriors Thursday night, Transparent Ted is going to offer Raptors president of basketball operation Masai Ujiri a deal that could be worth $10 million annually and perhaps a piece of ownership in the parent company, Monumental Sports & Entertainment.

I’m not sure which happened first — the ESPN report that the Wizards were ready to pounce on Ujiri or Ujiri’s confrontation with a sheriff’s deputy as the game ended that has resulted in an investigation into the Raptors president of basketball operations. He is accused of striking the Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy in the face.

The Wizards have taken a blow as well.

According to sources, someone has sounded the tampering alarm already in the Wizards’ courtship of Ujiri, forcing Transparent Ted to quickly back off the hard sell. That’s why you had the Washington Post story the next day dismissing any such offer, emphatically reporting that the Wizards “have no imminent plans to request permission to speak to Ujiri, nor has Monumental Sports & Entertainment arranged an offer at this time.”

That was damage control, but it may be too late. Any plans Transparent Ted had to make the big splash hire of Ujiri, who has two years left on his Toronto contract, may have quickly dried up.

Meanwhile, the last guy still left in the room, Sheppard, will run the team’s draft Thursday and may wind up with the “interim” general manager title.

And Transparent Ted hired a “consultant” to help him with all this.

It will take a “monumental” offer for anyone of note to take this job because whoever takes it is inheriting the mess that the owner ignored while Grunfeld sunk this franchise for years with bad decisions.

They will inherit a team with a $170 million albatross — the John Wall contract, with its max money that kicks in next season for a player who, after rupturing his Achilles tendon last February while recovering from heel surgery (with three knee surgeries already in the books), may not be ready to return until 2020, when he is 30 years old — if ever.

They will inherit a coach in Scott Brooks who has had minimal impact on the court and has two years remaining on the five-year, $35 million deal he signed with Washington in 2016.

They will inherit a depleted roster with one healthy player of note, Bradley Beal. They will take over an organization that, with at least a 10% chance of finishing with the second, third or fourth selection in the draft lottery last month, fell to ninth (where the odds had been just about 4% for that finish).

The team has announced that Thursday night they will hold a “draft party” at the Entertainment & Sports Arena. Brooks will be there, as well as Sheppard, who, according to NBC Sports Washington, “will share updates following the team’s selection.”

A party? OK, sure. A good wake is, after all, a party.

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

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