Report: Wes Unseld Jr., Wizards Finalizing Contract to Become Team's Next HC

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2021

Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld, Jr. calls out from the bench after taking over head coaching duties, following the ejection of head coach Michael Malone, in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. the Nuggets won 113-106. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. is reportedly set to become the next head coach of the Washington Wizards.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Friday that the Wizards are finalizing a deal with Unseld.

This comes after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on June 16 that Washington and former coach Scott Brooks chose to part ways after they failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension.

His deal expired following the 2020-21 campaign, and the Wizards are now turning in a different direction after his up-and-down tenure.

Brooks finished his five seasons with the Wizards with a 183-207 record, although he made the playoffs three times. Washington advanced to the second round in his first season, but it never made it past the first round in the following four and posted a losing record in Brooks' last three campaigns.

The 2020-21 season was particularly disappointing, as the team finished with a 34-38 record and needed a win over the Indiana Pacers in the play-in tournament just to reach the playoffs even though it had a star-studded backcourt with Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal.

Washington lost in the first round in five games to the Philadelphia 76ers.

That is the backdrop for Unseld as he takes over at an organization that needs to quickly turn things around if it is going to win with Beal and Westbrook as the two go-to options.

After all, both guards have a player option for the 2022-23 campaign and could eventually sign elsewhere soon into the new coach's tenure. That means winning in the immediate future all while developing potential young building blocks such as Deni Avdija and Daniel Gafford.

It will not be an easy task, but Unseld has extensive experience as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic and Nuggets.

He is also familiar with the organization given his family ties, as his father, Wes Unseld, was a Hall of Famer, league MVP and five-time All-Star who helped lead Washington to its only championship in franchise history during the 1977-78 season.

Unseld was also a head coach and general manager for Washington, and the Wizards' new coach worked under his father with the team before he became an assistant coach.