The Los Angeles Clippers are losing a centerpiece of their championship core, but it isn't a player. Michael Winger, the general manager who helped the Clippers acquire Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in 2019, is reportedly joining the Washington Wizards.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Michael Winger has agreed to become the new President of Monumental Basketball, which will deliver him full leadership of the Washington Wizards. Additionally, Winger will also take control of the WNBA's Washington Mystics and the NBA B League's Capital City Go-Go.
New Orleans Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon also interviewed for the job last week before the Wizards decided on Winger.
“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,” adds Adrian Wojnarowski in his report.
The new Wizards President is certainly going to have his work cut out for him. The NBA Draft is in one month, and Washington has the eighth, 41st, and 57th picks. Also, the second- and third-highest paid players on the Wizards both have player options for the 2023-24 season. Kristaps Porzingis has an option for $26 million and Kyle Kuzma has an option for $13 million. Both options have a June 21st deadline to opt into.
Michael Winger was an executive with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2005-10 working under General Manager Danny Ferry. He then became the assistant general manager with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2010-17 working under General Manager Sam Presti. Winger has spent the last six years in Los Angeles working under Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank. He was a part of the front office that lured Kawhi Leonard to L.A. and traded for Paul George.
Winger previously received interest from the Minnesota Timberwolves in April 2019 but elected to remain with the Clippers. Now, he'll have an opportunity to take full control of the Wizards and try to turn them into a contender. The Wizards have missed the playoffs in four of the last five seasons. They finished with records of 35-47 in 2022-23, 35-47 in 2021-22, 34-38 in 2020-21, 25-47 in 2019-20, and 32-50 in 2018-19.
The departure does leave a void for the L.A. Clippers, who could look internally at assistant general managers Mark Hughes or Trent Redden as well as externally, potentially to someone like Warriors executive Bob Myers.