In an hour-long Q&A session at The Washington Post with reporters and editors Tuesday afternoon, Sheppard, Wizards Coach Scott Brooks and Sashi Brown, the first-year chief planning and operations officer for Monumental Basketball, offered their vision for a club that won just 32 games last season.
Sheppard called the refreshed outlook “the Wizards Way.”
“I think we’re still evaluating the best way to express it, but we know what we don’t want the Wizards Way to look like,” Sheppard said. “We don’t want players that don’t want to be here. We don’t want people to have contracts that far exceed what they produce result-wise. We don’t want unhappy people that are going to cause disintegration in our locker room.
“That’s the way out. That’s the Wizards’ way out, so what we’re trying to onboard now, talent, of course, but high character, hard-driven, value-driven people that we can back with data that have places in our locker room.”
The Wizards added a litany of players, presumably who fit that blueprint, during the offseason but enter training camp, which begins next week, with an injury-diminished roster.
Most recently, swingman Troy Brown Jr. strained his left calf during workouts Monday. Sheppard indicated Brown is expected to be out for up to a month, which means he could be available when Washington opens the regular season Oct. 23 in Dallas.
The 15th pick in the 2018 draft played 52 games last season, averaging 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
Brown’s prolonged absence is one of three of the unforeseen variety, including Isaiah Thomas. The 5-foot-9 guard had surgery Sept. 18 to repair the radial collateral ligament in his left thumb, which Thomas injured during routine workouts two days earlier. Thomas, who signed with the Wizards in July, is forecast to miss six to eight weeks.
Another new piece, forward C.J. Miles, underwent surgery over the summer for a stress fracture in his left foot for an injury the team announced July 25. The prognosis for Miles to be out indefinitely.
Wall had surgery on his left Achilles’ tendon in the spring, and Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis said during a news conference in late July the five-time all-star probably would not play this season.
“There’s a lot of new faces,” Brooks said Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot of new guys on our staff. I just finally today figured it all out, talked to all the coaches and figured, ‘Okay, you’re going to be working this guy; you’re going to be with this coach.’
“It just goes down the line, even with the guys we brought in on the management side. It’s been pretty seamless.”
Barring additional injuries, the Wizards are expected to begin the regular season with 10 new players after Sheppard, who had been interim general manager until Leonsis elevated him to the position full-time July 19, remade the roster.
Sheppard elected not to re-sign Tomas Satoransky, the primary backup to Wall, and he also let Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis depart. He dealt oft-injured center Dwight Howard for Miles and added Davis Bertans, Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones and Moritz Wagner in trade. He signed Thomas and point guard Ish Smith.
Sheppard selected forward Rui Hachimura out of Gonzaga with the ninth pick in the draft, which he directed as interim GM, and added forward Admiral Schofield from Tennessee in the second round, 42nd overall.
After the draft, Sheppard signed former Virginia Tech standout point guard Justin Robinson to a partially guaranteed contract. Robinson is the career leader in assists for the Hokies, who played in the NCAA tournament’s regional semifinals at Capital One Arena.
“The young players that we brought in, they’re not one-and-done kids,” Sheppard said. “There’s guys, the four rookies that we have, Rui, Admiral, we added Justin Robinson, we added Garrison Mathews, they all played for great college coaches, great programs, three-year players minimum.
“They’re rookies, but by pedigree they’ve accomplished a great deal, so they’re coming in the door, we’re not starting remedial basketball. It’s getting players who have been coached, and they can extend that knowledge out.”