In a 45-minute interview with Post columnist Mike Wise on Monday afternoon, Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis addressed the issues he has faced and continues to face in running half of Washington’s four major-revenue sports teams. A transcript of the interview follows.
Q. So you hired Don Newman, the longtime Spurs assistant, to help coach the Wizards. Is that what you mean by upgrades this offseason?
A. Part of the rolling the stone up the hill is changing the culture and going from losing to winning. We have to make the investments in scouting and all the little things – coaching, player development. I’m sure you’ll see more announcements, more investments from us in coaching.
Q. Another high-profile assistant?
A. Some assistants and shooting coaches and . . . I just want to make sure the investments we have in the young players. [He gets up and shows a three-feet tall notebook titled, “Wizards 2012 Roster” with all the players names and positions.] This we wrote the last week of the season. We liked [Bradley] Beal. He was the guy we wanted all along.
Also, we wanted to make sure we were entering the year with two players at every position. Last year we were so undermanned. Sometimes I’d blog about it and say there’s $15 million of payroll on the floor.
Now, we have a more grown-up team with players who have been around winning situations and been around the league. Nene, he’s a really good player, he’s a really good person and he’s a really good leader. And he is happy to be here. We bonded. That was important.
The mentoring he’s doing with Seraphin, who has the opportunity to play center. Look at our roster: vet-young, vet-young, vet-young — nice cadence there with building the team.
Wall, Crawford and Beal, that’s a pretty good three-guard rotation. We want to bring in a seasoned backup point guard.
Q. The decision on Blatche?
A. I’m torn. I believe people should have second and third chances. On the other hand, I don’t know where he fits now in this lineup. On the other hand, he’s the last remaining touchpoint from the previous teams. That’s what [was] being discussed and weighed.
I’m not afraid of amnestying him and paying him the money. We have turned the entire lineup in one and three-quarters seasons. We shouldn’t forget Gilbert played here John Wall’s rookie season until he traded himself to Orlando.
Now there’s two big questions: Can teams win or is it just the three-star system that works in the NBA? That’s a debate that is going on. Three stars — they won it this year. But the year before, Dallas won and they were more of a team.
Some teams are having to play players like their max players, but most of the players going in free agency are older, Ray Allen and Jason Terry, Rashard Lewis – they’ll play for less money or play where their friends are or play one time for a championship, they maybe like the city. We can’t offer that.
We have a great city, a great fan base, but we’re trying to become a ‘have team.’ And we’re not yet. We’re not a destination.