2019 Washington Wizards Draft Press Conference
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Tommy Sheppard of the Washington Wizards introduces 2019 NBA draft pick Rui Hachimura during a introductory press conference at Capital One Arena on June 21, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard on the trade deadline

On Thursday, in separate deals prior to the 3:00 P.M. trade deadline, the Wizards acquired veteran guard Shabazz Napier from the Nuggets and second-year guard Jerome Robinson from the Clippers. Washington traded Jordan McRae to the Nuggets and Isaiah Thomas, as well as the draft rights to Issuf Sanon, to the Clippers.

Following the deadline, Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard spoke to the media about the moves, the departures of Thomas and McRae and what adding Robinson and Napier means for the team moving forward.

On the departures of Isaiah Thomas and Jordan McRae:

“Obviously, before I say anything about the players we received, I can’t say enough about Isaiah Thomas and about Jordan McRae. One of the hardest days of any NBA calendar is the trade deadline, because you’re not just trading the player, you’re trading their family, you’re trading all their friends, you’re trading all these memories that we had together here. It’s difficult. Isaiah [Thomas] was a pro’s pro from day one when we brought him in. Every one of our young players, every one of our rookies had to see his love for the game and his work ethic – and he brought it every day. There’s no questioning his passion for the game, his brilliant basketball mind. We’re going to miss that unbelievably, but the opportunity to get Jerome Robinson was too great.”

On the acquisition of Shabazz Napier:

“Shabazz Napier, we liked. We just moved Isaiah Thomas – we needed a point guard to help in the backcourt with Ish Smith. I think that was a great compliment. He’s a great point guard that can really push the pace. He’s a guy, a hard-nosed guy, that will do all the right things. He’s got a winning pedigree and I think he’ll fit in pretty seamlessly for us. And it gives him a chance to show us if he can a part of our future.”

On the acquisition of Jerome Robinson:

“Jerome [Robinson] is a part of our future. He’s under contract. It was 2018 – that draft was interesting. We really liked Jerome [Robinson] a lot, we liked Troy Brown [Jr.] a lot and we liked (Moritz) Wagner a lot – and we ended up with all three of them. As a matter of fact, we also have Isaac Bonga from that draft. 2018 was good for us. We plan on developing Jerome [Robinson] on a very similar track to the other players we received in the last year. We said from day one, this year is about player development. Let’s watch these guys get better and we’re seeing it.”

On Robinson and Napier’s transitions to the new organization:

“We have absolutely no reservations that Jerome [Robinson] will follow that same arc [as the other young players already on the roster] and I think Shabazz [Napier] will be a seamless integration for us. John [Wall] and Brad [Beal] were both really excited. They’re familiar with him and they’re friendly with him. I think he’ll continue to play the way we want to play. We definitely recognize the need – player development is critical for us. We have to get better defensively; we recognize that as well. I think this team is coming together at the right time as we go into All-Star break. Hopefully we can get healthy, come back out of break and get a really good look at what this team is supposed to look like moving forward.”

On what he sees in Jerome Robinson:

“He’s a player we were attracted to at Boston College. He’s a 3-point threat, but he’s also somebody that can put it on the deck. He’s versatile – plays both positions. It’s a small fact, I don’t know if you guys knew this or not, but he actually played for John Wall’s AAU team growing up. He’s from Raleigh – there’s a good connection there. He’s athletic. He’s a hard-nosed kid. I think he’s going to help us a lot – adding depth to our team, athleticism for sure.”

On not trading Davis Bertans, despite interest from multiple teams:

“We both agree this has been a great situation for us, been a great situation for him. When somebody tells me this is where they want to be, I take them at face value for that. Davis [Bertans] and I have had a great relationship. His agent, Ted Leonsis, everyone on down, everyone in our organization has made it clear to Davis [Bertans]: ‘this is a great place for you and you’ve been great for us.’ That is the sort of affirmation that he’s been looking for – that this is a good place and that they want me here and we made it clear to him. It’s not like we unlocked his game. He did that. He went out and earned all the accolades that he’s getting recognized as one of the best shooters. But this is a good system for him and he recognizes that. It was never a doubt in my mind that we wanted to keep him, but I promise you, the more times you say you want to keep somebody, the more teams don’t want to believe you. And they keep calling. We heard from quite a few – pretty much every playoff team had interest. But I don’t think there was enough interest for us to sway our decision to keep him here.”

On the development of Jordan McRae:

“I can’t say enough about Jordan [McRae]. What a great pro. What a great story for our Go-Go and our staff bringing him up from a two-way to becoming a roster player to becoming a rotation player. It speaks to his talent and his abilities, but also the development program here. Man, we’re going to miss him. I am. But this is showbiz, it’s not show-friends. And we needed a point guard. And if that was what we needed to do, Shabazz [Napier] and Jordan [McRae] are a perfect fit for each team.”

On the development of the roster going forward:

“I think you let things coagulate. Let’s look at the rest of the year. Let this team tell us what to do. We’re not going to say ‘don’t make the playoffs,’ we want to see them win as many games as possible, but more importantly, we want to see them continue to develop and watch everybody’s talent increase. When that talent increases, you get a lot more ideas for the future. We can envision (Moritz) Wagner playing the five or four. Thomas [Bryant] – you’ve already seen us experiment with Thomas at the four. We’re going to try and give different players different looks, just to see what we can build on with that. I think the most important thing for this roster the rest of this year is to continue to come together. This is a no-drama group. There are nights where things don’t happen your way, the scoreboard is in a different direction than what you want it to be, but young players playing is a good thing. These minutes are important. NBA games, you can’t replicate. Summer League doesn’t do it, preseason doesn’t do it. You only play in the NBA during the season. We can point to each player on our roster and say, ‘did we expect [Isaac] Bonga to play this many minutes?’ No. And he’s started games for us. He’s moved up the roster. We had some guys jump in – tire patches if you will. Johnathan Williams and Gary Payton II jumped out of hardship situations and they’re both still here because we like their talent and the way they were able impact our roster. We’re getting better ideas for our roster.”

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