Sources: Michael Winger leaving Clippers to run Wizards

May 24, 2023, 7:29 PM

LA Clippers general manager Michael Winger has agreed to become the president of Monumental Basketball, which delivers him full leadership of the Washington Wizards, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

Winger will also oversee the WNBA's  Washington Mystics and the G-League's Go-Go, sources said.

Winger had become the increasing focus of Monumental owner Ted Leonsis' search for a top executive and takes over the Wizards with a reputation as a keen strategist, dealmaker and relationship builder.

After arriving from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017, Winger played an integral part in reshaping the Clippers' franchise under president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and owner Steve Ballmer. Winger spent considerable time weighing the prospects of leaving the Clippers for Monumental Sports, sources said, but ultimately made the move for a chance to lead Leonsis' franchises.

Leonsis has delivered Winger full authority to set the course for the Wizards franchise, including hiring a GM-level basketball executive and making decisions on the roster, coach and staff, sources said.

Wes Unseld Jr. is expected to be back for his third year as coach, but Winger will move to make a significant front office hiring to help start making decisions on the direction of the team -- especially with the NBA draft and July free agency weeks away. The Wizards hold the No. 8 pick in the June 22 draft.

Winger inherits a Wizards franchise that has missed the playoffs in four of five seasons, one that needs to build out a new infrastructure and manage difficult payroll decisions on a roster that could need significant overhaul. With All-Star guard Bradley Beal under contract for four years, $200 million-plus, the Wizards have to make choices on re-signing Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma to contract extensions.

Beal holds a full no-trade clause in his contract, which means the organization would have to work with him on a landing spot should the sides eventually decide to make him available in trade talks.

New Orleans GM Trajan Langdon was a prominent part in the Wizards' search, too, sources said. Winger and Langdon were the two executives known to have had substantial in-person meetings with Leonsis and organizational leadership, sources said.

The Wizards had been conducting a methodical month-plus-long search for a new top basketball executive to replace Tommy Sheppard, who was dismissed in April.

Winger has previously spurned overtures to remain with the Clippers, where he has worked with Frank and Ballmer. The Clippers reached the Western Conference finals for the first time in 2021.

Before his seven years working as an executive with the Thunder and president Sam Presti, Winger was an executive with the Cleveland Cavaliers under GM Danny Ferry from 2005 to 2010.