The sports press loves nothing more than to assess the ups and downs of a team’s fate day-to-day. Every dramatic headline lures readers – and I certainly get that. Continuity and consistency may not be clickbait, but they are the building blocks of a championship-caliber franchise – and I’m very proud to say that when it comes to the Wizards, we are executing on our long-term plan.
The most recent piece of big news is of course that John Wall has agreed to a contract extension that means he will be a Wizard for the prime of his career. John is integral to our team, of course, but he is also integral to our community. He loves the DMV, loves our fans and loves the organization. He’s invested in our city – and we are invested in him. For our fans, this is about our shared commitment to the future of the team. This signing is, I think, a moment that will create more lifelong Wizards fans.
But I think it’s important to be clear that this is also just one marquis piece of a larger strategy that it is working for us: the Wizards draft, develop, retain and sign to max deals our key players. We do it for the sake of continuity and cohesion. We are doing things the right way in order to become a destination organization in the league. I think we’re creating an environment where players say, “I want to be part of that.” And we are doing it by fulfilling our strategic plan. The evidence:
We are drafting, developing and retaining our players. In addition to John, we signed Bradley Beal to a max deal that will have him in Washington for at least 5 years. Signing Otto Porter to a max contract after matching an offer sheet that only further proved what we already know about Otto – that he is a max contact player. Keeping these three guys together for the foreseeable future gives us a real foundation to build on. We have the youngest core of long-term signed max players in the league, and one of the best starting 5s in the league, too: Wall, Beal, Porter, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris.
We are investing in our team. We are now paying the luxury tax because we know we have the right group of players to invest in. The chemistry and culture of this team is important, and we were committed to doing what it took to keep this group together. We also have one of the most talented, experienced and highest-paid coaching staffs in the league, led by Scott Brooks. We have invested in cutting-edge technology and analytics, including the implementation of VR training tools, to keep improving our game.
We are investing in basketball development at all levels – and in our community. We recently acquired a G League team, making us one of the only organizations in the entire league to own an NBA, WNBA and G League team, as well as an in-city arena. We have also committed to bring the WNBA and G League teams to their own optimized arena at the St. Elizabeths campus in Ward 8 – which will also bring economic revitalization to the neighborhood. Ground has been broken on the facility and we expect to move in there in the fall of 2018.
Washington gets a bad rap on the national stage sometimes for not living up to its commitments. I’m proud to say that for our part, we’re doing all that we can to ensure that’s not the case.