Ted Leonsis Takes Over Sole Ownership of the Washington Wizards

Matthew Brown@mlb923Correspondent IMarch 26, 2010

MONTREAL- JANUARY 23: Ted Leonsis appears at The Hockey News / NHL All-Star party at Gare Dalhousie on January 23, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec as part of the 2009 NHL All-Star Weekend festivities. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images for NHL)
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals and Mystics, has agreed to become the owner of the Washington Wizards. Talks had been ongoing between Leonsis and the Pollin family since the death of owner Abe Pollin last November.

The deal saw Leonsis paying $170 million for the remaining 56 percent of the team and the Verizon Center, which are valued at $550 million.

The Wizards are in last place in the Southeast division, and if there is one thing Leonsis knows, it is rebuilding teams the right way.

Leonsis bought a 44 percent share in the Wizards when he bought the Capitals in 1999. The Capitals were one of the worst teams in the NHL before Leonsis took a proactive approach to fixing the problems. By the 2003-2004 season, the team parted with high-priced free agents like Jaromir Jagr and Robert Lang in favor building a team from the ground up.

Three years and a lockout later, the Capitals own the best record in the NHL and have high hopes of winning the Stanley Cup this year.

The hope is that Leonsis will take the same approach to the Wizards that proved so successful with the Capitals. The cost-cutting has already been done, now the team needs to build with youth.

Perfect timing with the NBA Draft coming in June.

No word yet on how involved Leonsis intends to be with the Wizards given his existing responsibilities with the Capitals, nor is it certain that GM Ernie Grunfeld will be retained or replaced. Not that there are rumors of Grunfeld's removal, but perhaps Leonsis will look for a fresh start altogether.

A change in ownership opens the doors for speculation on the direction for the future, but it shouldn't be an open door to foolish optimism.

As far as the Wizards are concerned, they are without a true franchise player and there is no guarantee Gilbert Arenas will be back. His presence or absence dictates what the Wizards can do in the upcoming free agency class and the draft they stand to hold four picks in.

There is always uncertainty in those situations, but the Wizards have more factors weighing upon the important decisions of the future.

No matter what happens with Arenas, Grunfeld, or the role Leonsis will play, the Wizards can rest easy knowing they have an owner who knows how to build a winning product and not alienate fans in the process. While he was already a substantial shareholder in the Wizards, this new acquisition means he will be the man behind the curtain for everything that comes in and out of the Verizon Center.

Welcome, Ted Leonsis, and may this new frontier be as successful as those you have conquered before!