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Report: Washington agrees to deal with Michael Longabardi to become assistant coach

Michael Longabardi

The Washington Wizards have hired Michael Longabardi to coach Scott Brooks’ staff, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that newly-appointed general manager Tommy Sheppard had discussed the prospect of joining the Wizards with Longabardi, who spent last season as associate head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 46-year-old was hired to be Cleveland’s defensive coordinator by Tyronn Lue in 2016, guiding the wine and gold to their first championship in franchise history mere months later with a stunning NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors. Longabardi has prior coaching experience with the Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, and Houston Rockets, who hired him away from Towson University in 2003.

The Wizards removed the interim tag from Sheppard’s title on Friday, making him full-time general manager. He assumed the role upon the April dismissal of longtime general manager Ernie Grunfeld, first appointed in 2003. Washington interviewed several candidates for the position in the interim, and was publicly linked to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, but nevertheless completed the draft and free agency with Sheppard occupying the role on an interim basis.

Washington has arguably as tough a road forward as any team in the Eastern Conference following a disappointing 2018-19 season on multiple fronts. The team was already underperforming when John Wall was shelved for the season’s remainder in late January, and its cloudy future got even darker shortly thereafter when the franchise point guard ruptured his Achilles tendon while falling at home. Now, the Wizards are stuck in an awkward middle between completely rebuilding absent intriguing young talent and trying to compete without a playoff-quality roster, all while Bradley Beal’s future hangs in the balance.

Needless to say, Longabardi, Brooks, Sheppard, and the rest could have a very tough season, or seasons, ahead of them.