After five straight seasons with a record at or above .500, the Washington Wizards plunged to a 32-50 (.390) mark in 2018-19.
The disappointing year resulted in team owner Ted Leonsis firing longtime Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld in April. The franchise-altering dismissal came after Leonsis consulted 78 people about how to modernize the organization's structure. He says the group included agents, sports executives from outside of basketball, and even former United States President Barack Obama.
"It was a very, very long gestation process," Leonsis told The Washington Post's Candace Buckner. "It wasn't what people were expecting, which was 'It's a small pool of candidates; you're going to hire a replacement for the last executive who was there.' I knew I would get grief on it, but if I did the work, my partners and the executive team would feel good about it."
The Wizards ultimately promoted interim general manager Tommy Sheppard to the GM role on a full-time basis.
When Leonsis and Obama spoke in April, the 44th President of the United States encouraged the Wizards to focus on "beauty of the game, teamwork, (and) sacrifice" as a catalyst to build team culture, a source told the Washington Post.
Others who spoke with Leonsis included NBA commissioner Adam Silver, San Antonio Spurs head coach and president Gregg Popovich, agent Rich Paul, New Orleans Saints and Pelicans executive Mickey Loomis, Texas Rangers president Jon Daniels, and Oakland Athletics vice president Billy Beane.