The Washington Wizards have been searching for a new president of basketball operations after firing longtime executive Ernie Grunfeld at season's end. But it seems their next hire won't be coming from the North.
Washington looked set to zero in on the Toronto Raptors' Masai Ujiri and was reportedly preparing a lucrative offer for him. But Wizards owner Ted Leonsis shot down the possibility of Ujiri succeeding Grunfeld.
"We have not commented on the many rumors surrounding potential candidates during this process, but I wanted to make an exception in this case out of respect to the Raptors organization as they celebrate their well-deserved championship," Leonsis said in a statement to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
"Any reports that we have interest in Masai Ujiri as a candidate are simply not true, and we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process."
Leonsis added he's satisfied with the interim leadership of Tommy Sheppard and the work done by the front office leading into the offseason. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Wizards will enter Thursday's NBA draft and the subsequent free-agency period without a permanent president of basketball operations.
"I am very happy with the work and preparation Tommy Sheppard, coach (Scott) Brooks, and our staff have done, and I'm confident we'll execute both the draft and free agency in an expert manner," Leonsis said. "Having that confidence has given me the freedom to continue the conversations I've been having on how to build a great organization and, as a result, I don't expect to make any decisions before the start of free agency."
Washington was unsuccessful in luring Baltimore native Tim Connelly away from the Denver Nuggets earlier in the offseason.
The Wizards finished 32-50 last season and missed the playoffs for the seventh time over the last 11 seasons.