- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 23, 2019

The owner of the Washington Wizards and a man who interviewed for their open general manager job were brought into the same room Sunday.

Danny Ferry was among those inducted into the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Nationals Park. Ted Leonsis was there to represent the 2017-18 Capitals team that brought the city its first Stanley Cup and earned the Hall’s first “team of distinction” award.

In an interview with The Washington Times, Leonsis confirmed Ferry is still in the running for the Wizards’ job.

The position remains vacant after Leonsis last week publicly denied rumors that the team was pursuing Raptors executive Masai Ujiri. He said he doesn’t expect to make a hire before the start of NBA free agency June 30.

Ferry, the son of longtime Washington Bullets general manager Bob Ferry, grew up in Bowie, Maryland and starred on the court at DeMatha Catholic High School and Duke University. Ferry was the general manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks, and earlier this year served as the interim GM for the New Orleans Pelicans for a few months.

Ferry had to step down from the Hawks in 2015 after reading aloud someone else’s scouting report on opposing player Luol Deng, which called Deng “an African” and made a racist comment about him.

Leonsis also spoke for the first time about Wizards first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura, expanding on a tweet last Friday that said “D.C. will love” the Japanese forward from Gonzaga. Leonsis praised Hachimura’s coachability, talent and personality.

“He’s a prototypical, next-generation NBA-like player,” Leonsis told the Times. “Six-eight, he really runs the floor, really can shoot. And we think he has a lot of upside still because he started playing at a later age. Compare that to a lot of players that come up through the AAU system, the high school system, they’re playing a lot of games. They have a lot of miles on them. It might be why we’re seeing so many injuries. We think he has a lot of upside and can develop and be healthy.”

The owner added that Hachimura’s new teammates will like the high charisma he brings to the locker room.

“We had him ranked much higher than ninth in our draft room,” Leonsis said.

On the Capitals, now one year removed from winning the Stanley Cup, Leonsis feels the team’s championship window is still “wide open.”

“Good thing we didn’t listen to the people who said the window was closing,” he said. “I think we have a really, really good mix of veteran players and young players. It was great to see our draft, and we’ve had two or three drafts where we’re now developing those players slowly, the right way, in Hershey (who are) getting ready to take the next step. So I think this team, the core will stay together and I think we’re gonna be really good next year too.”

The Capitals were knocked out of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round by the Carolina Hurricanes after a seven-game series. Most of last year’s team will be back in 2019-20, with center Nicklas Backstrom and goalie Braden Holtby entering the final year of their contracts.

Leonsis did not have any updates about his plans to add a sportsbook inside Capital One Arena, saying that Monumental Sports and Entertainment is waiting for the District of Columbia to finalize its regulations of legalized sports betting.

“I want to reiterate that we’re not creating or owning the sportsbook,” Leonsis said. “We’ll never touch the money. We just own the arena, and we are fortunate that the city’s passing this law and new regulations. So we’ll be able to work with a partner who will build the sportsbook in the arena, but it’s not ‘ours.’”

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