Have a history of passing up an opportunity to apply for a general manager position with at least one other NBA team, Michael Winger says Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times that he began to wonder if he would have the opportunity to become the leading executive in a front office. That was the reason for his decision to take the job as the wizardspresident, a position he officially secured on Thursday.
“Rarely, I think, in professional sports do those opportunities come along where almost all of your boxes, if not all of your boxes, are checked,” Winger said. “And this I think was the rare and extremely lucky opportunity for someone like me to tick all the boxes: ownership, market, fan base, already a talented team.”
Winger is already somewhat familiar with the Washington area, as Greif points out. The former clippers the general manager lived in Baltimore during his senior year of law school and often visited friends in DC during that time.
“I just felt like if I’m ever going to challenge myself, now is the time and (owner of Wizards) Ted (Leonsis) is the right person,” Winger said. “I think DC is the right fan base.”
Here’s more from the new Wizards manager on the challenges ahead in DC and the six years he spent in Los Angeles as the Clippers’ GM:
- According to Winger, he’s accomplished most of his goals with the Clippers over the past six years as he helped transform the franchise into a coveted destination for stars. Of course, there is one noteworthy target that will remain unsolved. “I would have liked to win one or more championships in the four years we have now Paul (George) And Kawhi (Leonard)but any team trying to win a championship and don’t wish they would have won a championship,” Winger told Greif. “I mean winning at the highest level would have been great. What else? That’s it really.”
- Winger added that he is still confident that George and Leonard are a “championship tandem” capable of leading the Clippers to a title: “I believe to my core that those two guys, if they’re healthy, can absolutely win a championship, so I’m a little sad that I won’t be there when they finally do.”
- Most of Winger’s conversations with Leonsis during the interview process focused on a “bigger vision” for the Wizards rather than specific roster moves, Greif writes. The plan is to dig deeper into specific plans for the roster once Winger brings in a second executive who will focus exclusively on the Wizards in a GM-like role.
- Winger said he’s excited about the prospect of having it Bradley Bell as the cornerstone of Washington’s roster: “His former coaches, his former teammates, they all have an extraordinary amount of respect for him, and he is undeniably a superstar. The hardest thing to do in the NBA is to acquire superstar talent and it’s even harder to acquire superstar talent with his character level And so I think it’s an extremely, extremely happy starting point, so for me that’s really exciting to have someone like Brad on the team.
- Winger is confident that Leonsis will use “both the resources and the patience” to make the Wizards an organization with a winning culture, pointing to Leonsis’ work with the NHL’s Washington Capitals as proof of his ability to run a successful franchise. “It’s just a matter of taking some of those principles, injecting the equivalent of the NBA nuances into those principles, and hopefully building something that’s sturdy and solid, attracting good players, attracting good personnel, retaining good players, retaining good personnel , and ends up winning basketball games,” Winger told Greif.